We have all been there before–walking across an icy parking lot, stumbling over a child’s toy, or a house pet inadvertently walks into our path in the home. We try to catch our balance, but the end result is a fall. We brace ourselves with an outstretched hand trying to soften the blow. Most of the time we get up and brush ourselves off from the initial scare. We assess our damage and feel a burning pain in the wrist and hand that tried to catch our fall. If the pain is bad enough or if we have that knowing suspicion that something is not right we go into get x-rays.
If you are fortunate you may receive the good news that there is no fracture. For those that are not as lucky, you are told that a fracture has occurred in the wrist area. You brace yourself for the scenarios that are laid before you. If the fracture is minor and still aligned you are put into a cast for a period of time. If the fracture is worse, surgery is needed to correct the alignment. Either scenario will require a period of being immobilized.
The traditional method is to be placed in a cast for that period of time to allow the bone to heal. However, you do have the option to ask for a custom splint that will be form fitted to your wrist and forearm. This type of splint is usually made by a hand therapist and is much lighter than a cast; you are also able to get it wet if needed. In addition, a custom splint can be re-adjusted for comfort and can be removed for hygiene purposes.
A custom removable splint allows you to rehab faster because you can work on your range of motion with a hand therapist without jeopardizing the healing process.
If you are placed in a cast, the long period of immobilizing the wrist will leave you with significant stiffness, weakness, and possibly hypersensitivity to the skin. After the cast is removed, your best course of treatment is to have a few therapy sessions with a hand therapist. You will be given proper progressive stretches and strengthening exercises that will speed up your recovery time and get your wrist back to good working function in no time. When any joint becomes immobilized for a period of time, it becomes stiff. The wrist, especially, is very dynamic with eight small bones that are held together with many ligaments. Each one of these carpal bones needs to move and glide appropriately in order for your wrist to regain its motion and function without pain. The ligaments holding these bones together stiffen and tighten up during the immobilization period. A skilled hand therapist will be able to manipulate these bones individually and rehabilitate them to glide and rotate properly and effectively, limiting pain with movement.
So…if and when you have the unfortunate experience of suffering a wrist fracture, remember that there is expert care available to you that will make the recovery process run smooth and efficiently. Trust your hand and wrist expert at Alexandria Rehabilitation to give you the specialty care that will make the biggest impact on your recovery!
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