Broken and fractured bones are caused by a range of trauma and can come from everyday trips or more serious accidents. A fractured wrist, caused by falling down onto an outstretched hand, is one of the most common trauma injuries.
The symptoms range from the obvious such as the snapping or grinding noise at the time of injury to more subtle signs of damage. A bone can be broken even it there is no sign of it breaking the skin and bleeding. Alternative symptoms include severe pain and tenderness, swelling and bruising, difficulty move the limb or joint as well as tingling and numbness.
A break or fracture should be initially treated at an accident and emergency unit. A physical examination will provide an early assessment and X-rays will be needed if a bone is broken or fractured to get an accurate picture of damage to the bone structure before treatment can be planned.
Painkillers are normally administered in the first instance and a splint may be applied or the fingers may be strapped together with padding to immobilise them. This minimises the risk of further damage.
Consultants may be able to re-align bones with expert manipulation but surgery is often required using wires, plates, pins and screws to restore shape and structure. A plaster cast may be used to give the bones protection while they re-grow and heal.
In some cases, a section of bone may be so badly crushed that a bone graft to bridge the gap and promote healing maybe needed. Hand surgeons are experienced and experts at the nuances of repairing and restoring any of the 27 bones that make up the hand and wrist.
Follow-up consultations and physiotherapy are essential to the full rehabilitation of hand function.