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Treating Wrist Fractures

A fractured bone starts to heal on its own right away. But a treatment called reduction may help you heal better. Reduction is a process that repositions your bones. The goal is to get them as close as possible to how they were before the fracture. Your doctor will use one or more methods of reduction.

Hand with external fixator
An external fixator is a rigid bar that screws into the bone through tiny holes made in the skin. It holds the fractured segments of bone in place.

Closed Reduction

If you have a clean break with little soft tissue damage, closed reduction will probably be used. Before the procedure, you may be given a light anesthetic to relax your muscles. Then your doctor manually readjusts the position of the broken bone. A splint or cast will be worn while you heal.

Hand with plate
A plate with tiny screws helps keep the bone stable and in place.

Open Reduction

If you have an open fracture (bone sticking out through the skin), badly misaligned sections of bone, or severe tissue injury, open reduction is likely. A general anesthetic may be used during the procedure to let you sleep and relax your muscles. Your doctor then makes one or more incisions to realign the bone and repair soft tissues. Pins, screws, plates, or a combination of implants may be used under the skin to hold the bone in place during healing. Another device that may be used is an external fixator, which holds the bones in the correct position, and is surgically placed on the outside of the skin.

The Road to Healing

Fractures take about six weeks to heal. Keeping your hand raised can control swelling, throbbing, and pain. Your doctor may prescribe medicine that can help reduce pain. Don’t remove a splint unless your doctor says you can. Call your doctor if your pain gets worse or if you notice any excess swelling or redness. Sometimes these implants, especially wires, may need to be removed after the fracture has healed 

Online Medical Reviewer: Dozier, Tennille, RN, BSN, RDMS
Online Medical Reviewer: newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 8/25/2013
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