Handling the unexpected
Hand and wrist fractures occur from a variety of causes including jamming, crushing, twisting, falling, or cutting your hand/wrist. There are many fracture patterns including transverse, oblique, longitudinal, and spiral to name a few. Similarly, there are many treatment options based upon your unique fracture.
If the bone(s) are not well aligned, a reduction will be necessary. This can be done closed (without an incision) or open (when an incision is required to align the bone fragments). Obviously a closed reduction under a block in the office is preferable but it is not always possible.
Fractures are also characterized as closed when the skin is intact in the region of the fracture, and open when the bone has either come through the skin or there is a laceration in communication with the fracture. In the case of an open fracture, an operation is often required.
If an operation is required, an incision is made and the bones are realigned under direct vision and with the use of intra-operative fluoroscopy (real time X-ray). Once the bones are aligned a decision is made regarding which if any hardware (pins, screws, plates etc.) will be used. These help stabilize the fractures and support the healing of the bone(s).
Your road to recovery
Many hand fractures require prolonged immobilization in the form of a splint or cast. A rehabilitation program with a hand therapist will be prescribed to improve your motion.
Hand fracture surgery is a complex operation and despite a tailored therapy plan you may struggle with soreness and stiffness. If this occurs we may recommend additional procedures to restore your motion.
A return to full activity varies greatly and depends on the severity of your fracture/injury. Your surgeon will help explain your unique timeline.