If the distal radius fracture occurs in a satisfactory location, a splint or cast is placed. It is frequently used as a last resort therapy until the bone recovers. A cast is typically worn for up to six weeks. After this time, a bracer can be used instead.
The goal of treatment is to allow for early motion and rehabilitation while maintaining alignment and support of the bone structure.
Radial styloid fractures are often overlooked by clinicians during daily trauma rounds. These injuries are commonly seen on radiographs taken for other indications (e.g., wrist pain), making them difficult to diagnose. Patients with radial styloid fractures may present with vague symptoms such as discomfort when raising the hand over their head or bending the elbow. Physical exam findings include swelling, deformity, and neuropathy. Radiographic confirmation is necessary to rule out other serious injury patterns such as midshaft fractures of the radius. Treatment options include rest, immobilization, and reduction of pain using non-surgical measures; surgical fixation may be required in severe cases or if non-operative management is not successful.
Surgery may be needed if the patient has significant pain that does not improve with medical treatment, loss of function of the hand due to damage of surrounding tissues, or progressive deformity of the wrist.
Clinical bone healing takes typically 4-6 weeks for distal radius fractures, however it can take longer in certain cases. Regaining range of motion, strength, and function may take another 6–12 months. Long-term studies are needed to determine how often broken bones need to be repaired before becoming osteopenic.
Wearing a supportive cast or splint can successfully cure distal radius fractures. Surgery may be required for severe distal radius fractures. In these cases, the surgeon will repair or replace the ligaments and connective tissue that attach to the bone inside the wrist.
The bones of the wrist are held together by strong ligaments. When these ligaments are damaged, the bones may slip over each other or leave a gap between them. This condition is called "arthro-sis" and it can lead to pain and stiffness in the hand. It may also increase your risk of developing arthritis. Surgery can fix this problem but you should only do so if you have very severe injuries that a cast cannot treat.
The ligaments of the wrist are divided into two groups: extrinsic and intrinsic. The extrinsic ligaments include the radioulnar (or collateral) ligament, the palmar radioulnar ligament, and the dorsal intercalated segmental ligament. These ligaments stabilize the radius within the ulna and protect it from injury if excessive force is applied to the hand. Injury to the extrinsic ligaments can cause instability of the wrist due to increased mobility of the radius within the ulna and may require surgical treatment.
In any instance, the first fracture therapy is the use of a splint to provide comfort and pain relief. If the fracture is displaced, it is reduced (repositioned) before being placed in a splint. The splint should be worn at all times except when bathing or swimming.
Radius fractures can be treated with either rest or cast immobilization. Rest means that you avoid putting pressure on the bone by not lifting weights or using the arm regularly. This allows the bone to heal without stress on it. Casting is used as an alternative to rest for patients who are unable to take time off from their job. In this case, the hand is wrapped in a rigid plaster shell during healing.
After treatment, your doctor will help you regain full use of the limb by doing exercises to strengthen the muscles around the elbow and shoulder. These may include range-of-motion (ROM) training and/or muscle strengthening routines.
This study found that the usual course of recovery after a distal radius fracture is for severe symptoms to diminish within the first two months and for the majority of patients to have little pain and impairment by six months. However, 10-20% of patients will continue to experience some degree of discomfort and disability at three years.
These findings were published in the journal Spine and are consistent with previous studies that showed 80% of patients could return to their pre-injury activity level at one year and 90% by three years.
After performing distal radius surgery, patients should expect mild pain and stiffness during exercise and weight-bearing activities for up to 24 months after the operation. However, most patients will experience full recovery of function by then.
Patients who suffer from chronic pain or disability after this time may need additional treatment.
A stable, uncomplicated, and isolated ulna fracture (due to a direct blow) can be treated with a cast for four to six weeks. Recovery time depends on the type of injury and the patient's overall health but typically involves a full return to normal activity levels within 12 months.
For more severe or unstable injuries, you may need surgery to repair or replace damaged bones. The injured arm should be kept close to your body during recovery so that muscles and blood vessels near the site of the injury are not stretched beyond their capacity.
Radius fractures can be difficult to diagnose because they share many similar symptoms with other conditions such as tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, and arthritis. X-rays are used to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other conditions that can cause pain, swelling, and inability to use the hand/arm.
The healing time for a fractured radius is about the same as a long bone in the leg or arm. That means it takes about three to four months before you can put some weight on it. However, you should never try to push yourself too hard too soon after suffering this kind of injury. You risk making the problem worse by doing things like lifting weights or playing sports that were not recommended by your doctor.
If you have a simple break in your wrist, such as near the end of the radius, it may mend on its own. You simply need time and immobilization to allow your wrist to recover. In these circumstances, the ER doctor would most likely reset your fractured bone, which can be quite painful. However, if the injury is more severe or if there are other injuries associated with your fracture, then you should see a hand surgeon.
You can also heal radii fractures on your own. The key is to give your arm enough time for the bones to heal together properly. You may need to use a splint or sling to keep the arm in place while it heals. Talk to your doctor before using any kind of self-treatment method for a radius fracture.
Radius fractures can be very painful and may seem unhealable by looking at them under a microscope. However, with proper care and time, they will heal up completely. It is important not to try and move the broken bone during the healing process; this could lead to additional damage or pain. If you require information about how long it takes to heal a radius fracture, talk to your doctor. He or she can tell you exactly when you can start moving again.