With slippery sidewalks and hidden icy patches, winter can be a treacherous time foreverybody. During this season, the incidence of wrist fractures increases because many people try to use an outstretched arm to break a fall when they slip on the ice. Athletes who participate in sports like ice skating, skiing, and snowboarding have an even higher chance of sustaining an injury like a wrist fracture.
When you sustain a wrist fracture during a fall, there are ten different bones that can be affected. This means that there are many different types of wrist fractures depending on which bones are affected. Some of the symptoms you might experience with a broken wrist include:
- Severe pain
- Difficulty gripping
- Inability to move fingers
If you think that your wrist might be broken, contact a doctor immediately. It’s important to start treatment as soon as possible to avoid complications and to ensure that the bones heal properly. An untreated wrist fracture could result in loss of normal function.
How to Avoid a Wrist Fracture this Winter
If you participate in winter sports, be sure to wear the appropriate gear (including wrist guards) to help you avoid all types of injury. It’s also important to learn proper technique so you know how to fall in a way that reduces the risk of injury. Both athletes and non-athletes can benefit from bone-strengthening activities such as weight-bearing exercise. Ensuring that your diet includes both calcium and Vitamin D can also help improve bone strength so that if you do fall, you have a lower risk of a wrist fracture.
How to Treat a Wrist Fracture
If you suffer from a wrist injury, it’s critical to regain normal function as fast as you can. You don’t realize how much you use your wrists until you can’t. Basic activities like buttoning a shirt or brushing your teeth become very challenging, if not impossible, while you recover.
There are various treatment approaches depending on the type of fracture. In the case of an unstable fracture, wrist surgery might be required to ensure that the bones are in the proper position before healing begins. Stable fractures can be repositioned without requiring surgery. In either case, the treatment typically includes:
A cast or splint is used to immobilize the wrist joint so you are unable to move it while the affected bones heal. After the cast is removed, treatment continues as recovery is not yet complete.
Cold and compression therapy
The body responds to injury with the inflammatory response, which means that you will experience pain and swelling. Cold and compression therapy can be used to safely and conveniently reduce swelling and help alleviate pain with little or no medication.
Your doctor might prescribe prescription or over-the-counter pain medication, especially during the early stages of the recovery process when the pain is most intense. This medication can also help reduce swelling.
The muscles in the hand and forearm may atrophy while the wrist is immobilized, so it’s important to do physical therapy after the cast is removed to regain strength and range of motion. A physical therapist will provides exercises to help you do this safely.
Many physical therapists use ultrasound to help stimulate cellular regeneration and accelerate the healing process.
Massage can be used to help relieve the joint stiffness you will experience after the cast is removed. This can help improve range of motion and also stimulate the flow of blood and nutrients to enhance the healing process.
If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of recovering from a wrist fracture this winter, download our free Guide to Speed Up Your Break or Fracture Recovery. Use it as a supplement to the treatment information your doctor provides to help you return to normal activity as quickly as possible.