specializing in advanced surgical care of hand, wrist, and elbow injuries and conditions

Wrist Fractures and Treatment

Wrist Fractures

As we begin to undeck the halls and unwrap the gifts maybe you or someone you know was the recipient of the “hot” Christmas gift this year, a hover board.   While these devices have stirred some controversy there is no denying that they bring lots of fun, excitement, and not to mention an unforgiving test of one’s balance. Hover boards have been associated with some serious and not-so-serious injuries. One of the most common injuries that occur from an unexpected fall is a fracture of the wrist, also referred to as a distal radius fracture. The radius is the larger of the 2 bones in the forearm. The end of the bone toward the wrist is called the distal end.   The radius is the most common bone broken in the arm.


Distal radius fractures have many causes; however it is frequently associated with a fall on an outstretched arm. Other causes include:

  • Osteoporosis, a condition where the bones become weak and fragile
  • Trauma, such as a car or motorcycle accident
  • Falls from a height
  • Sporting injuries


Although symptoms can vary, common symptoms include immediate pain, tenderness, bruising, and swelling. In many cases, the wrist may look misshaped or deformed.


An x ray will be ordered to establish it the bone is broken. You may be placed in a temporary splint and depending on the severity of the injury you may be referred to an orthopedic hand surgeon. Not all wrist fractures need to be treated urgently. However, if you have significant pain, deformity, or your fingers are not pink in color you should go the emergency department.


Management of a wrist fractures varies based on the severity of the fracture. Treatment may be surgical or non-surgical and this will be determined at the consultation with your hand surgeon.

Non-surgical Treatment

If your broken bone is in good alignment you may be placed in a cast. If the alignment is not ideal the surgeon may manually re-align the fracture fragments, which is called a reduction, and once the fracture is in good alignment you may be placed in a cast.

Surgical Treatment

If the position of your bone cannot be fixed properly by a cast your hand surgeon may recommend surgery. This will provide the most ideal alignment of your bones and eventually allow for the most optimal function of your hand and wrist.  Based on the nature of your fracture the surgical options may include any of the following or a combination of these.

  • Pins
  • Cast
  • Plate and screws
  • A metal device on the outside of the skin (external fixator)

Healing and Recovery

All fractures are created differently and therefore healing and recovery is individualized based on the type of fracture, the treatment technique, and the individual s lifestyle and demands. Your hand surgeon will follow you closely during your healing phase.

After sufficient healing occurs a course of hand therapy may be recommended to get you on the mend as quickly as possible.

So whether you fall from a hover board or simply maneuvering throughout your kitchen if you suspect a wrist fracture or any broken bone call Dr. Burke at Hand Surgery Associates.   (570)877-2289.

Wishing you a happy, healthy, and safe New Year,

Dr. Burke and the staff at Hand Surgery Associates.