Fixing A Fractured Wrist

Falling, contact sports, and trauma are some of the main causes of a fractured wrist. While most people go on to enjoy a full recovery, this injury can impact everyday life. Loss of independence and inability to work are common complaints with wrist injuries. When a simple splint or immobilization strategy doesn’t work, arthroscopy may be necessary to repair the damage.

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What is arthroscopy?

When surgery is needed for a fractured wrist, an arthroscopy is usually recommended. This minimally invasive surgery allows the surgeon to get a clear view of the damage by relying on the use of a narrow tube with a camera attached. Opting for a less invasive surgery that relies on a small incision site allows patients to recover faster. While the primary goal of arthroscopy is to determine the extent of joint damage after an injury, sometimes the condition can be corrected during the procedure.

What to expect

Once a physician determines that an arthroscopy should be conducted, the procedure will be scheduled. Patients can expect to receive either general or regional anesthesia. During the procedure, the surgeon will examine the injury and use small surgical tools to repair damaged tissues or remove bone fragments. Any bones that are misaligned can be put back into place.

Rest and recovery

Once the surgeon has completed the surgery, the small incisions will be closed, and the surgical site will be bandaged to expedite healing. Additionally, the wrist will be immobilized using a splint or cast, which should be left on for 1-2 weeks. Recovering patients will be encouraged to rest the joint and avoid excessive movement to speed recovery. Keeping the wrist elevated above the heart can help minimize pain and swelling.

Strengthen with physical therapy

While wrist arthroscopy can be the first step in treating a fracture, immobilization tends to be the primary treatment method to ensure a smooth recovery. Once the splint or cast is removed, patients will be encouraged to focus on rebuilding wrist strength. Physical therapy (PT) can help people regain strength and return to activities. PT methods can include gentle exercises like gripping a rolled towel and rolling the wrist. Eventually, patients will progress to lifting small weights to strengthen the joint.

Wrist arthroscopy for a full recovery

While surgery may not be the recommendation people want to hear, the procedure can ensure better patient outcomes. Typically, wrist arthroscopy is only recommended when a physician suspects the fracture damaged surrounding tissue or caused bones in the wrist to be misaligned. However, thanks to the minimally invasive procedure, recovery can be quicker, and individuals can return to regular life faster.

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