What is wrist fracture?

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Broken wrist: Overview

Your wrist can break, or fracture, during sports, a fall, or other accidents. The break may happen when your wrist is hit or is used to protect you in a fall. Fractures can range from a small, hairline crack, to a bone or bones broken into two or more pieces. Your treatment depends on how bad the break is.

Your doctor may have put your wrist in a cast or splint. This will help keep your wrist stable until your follow-up appointment. It may take weeks or months for your wrist to heal. You can help it heal with care at home.

You heal best when you take good care of yourself. Eat a variety of healthy foods, and don't smoke.

How can you care for a broken wrist?

  • Put ice or a cold pack on your wrist for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when you are awake). Put a thin cloth between the ice and your cast or splint. Keep your cast or splint dry.
  • Follow the splint or cast care instructions your doctor gives you. If you have a splint, do not take it off unless your doctor tells you to. Be careful not to put the splint on too tight.
  • Be safe with medicines. Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Prop up your wrist on pillows when you sit or lie down in the first few days after the injury. Keep your wrist higher than the level of your heart. This will help reduce swelling.
  • Move your fingers often to reduce swelling and stiffness, but do not use that hand to grab or carry anything.
  • Follow instructions for exercises to keep your arm strong.

Broken wrist

Skeletal view of forearm and hand, with detail of broken wrist

A broken wrist (distal radius fracture) is a break in one or more of the bones that connect your forearm to your hand. Wrist fractures can range from a small, hairline crack to a bone or bones broken into two or more pieces.

Broken wrist in children: When to call

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child is very sleepy and is hard to wake up.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has new or worse pain.
  • Your child's hand or fingers are cool or pale or change color.
  • Your child's cast or splint feels too tight.
  • Your child has tingling, weakness, or numbness in the hand or fingers.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.
  • Your child has problems with the cast or splint.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.