A wrist fracture is one of the most common car accident injuries. This type of injury occurs so frequently because your hands are typically on your steering wheel at the time of impact. You may try to brace yourself if you see the accident coming, or the simple jarring of your hands against the steering wheel can cause fractures. Some people throw their hands up in the air during a car accident, leaving your wrists exposed to hitting the ceiling, window, door, airbag, and more. Each of your hands and wrists combined has 27 bones in them, meaning there are a lot of places where a fracture can occur, particularly when your car accident is serious.
If you’ve experienced a wrist fracture, you need to get the proper treatment and long-term care to ensure your pain and discomfort isn’t long-lasting. Wrist fractures are one of the most common car accident injuries that can cover a wide range of severity, from maybe just needing a simple splint to heal for a few weeks to extensive surgeries and rehabilitation. No matter how extreme your wrist fracture injury is, you need an orthopedic doctor to help you heal and recover as thoroughly and quickly as possible.
Initial Treatment of Wrist Fractures
Upon initial evaluation of your wrist injury, an orthopedic doctor will do an X-ray. If any of the bones show a fracture, you’ll likely be put in a cast for a period of time, based on how severe the break is. Sometimes an MRI or CT scan will be done to look at the soft tissues surrounding the bones to see if there is more damage than just a fracture. While you’re waiting for your wrist fracture to heal, you may need medication to reduce pain, but the initial part of recovery is primarily made up of waiting for your fracture to heal.
If your fracture is more serious, you may need surgery before you can begin the recovery process. This might include implantation of pins, rods, plates, or screws that are needed to hold the bones in place while they heal.
While most rehabilitation will take place after your cast is removed and your fracture is healed, you may see a physical therapist during the healing process as well. Even if your wrist is in a cast or sling, you might be advised to do some shoulder or elbow exercises to keep up the strength in your arm and begin making progress toward ultimate healing. The more blood flow to the injured area, the better, so physical therapy while healing can be hugely beneficial.
What to Expect During Recovery
While your cast is still on, you’ll likely have another X-ray to ensure the healing is progressing as hoped. If it isn’t, your cast may be removed and surgery may be discussed. If the healing seems to be taking place as your doctor desires, you’ll have your cast on for a set amount of time and then it will be removed. Your doctor will then re-examine your wrist again, possibly with another imaging test, to make sure it appears to be fully healed.
After the fracture is gone, you may begin physical therapy or rehabilitation to strengthen your wrist and regain range of motion. This will involve a number of different exercises to reduce your pain, minimize stiffness, increase range of motion, improve strength, and more.
It is incredibly important to follow your recovery plan after a car accident injury so that you minimize the likelihood of long-term effects from the injury. Particularly for a wrist injury, you need to make sure you regain your full strength and range of motion so that it doesn’t negatively affect your daily life. Lacking the use of your wrist can be extremely challenging in completing day to day tasks, and you need to keep up with your therapy and rehab requirements to ensure your pain resolves and the injury does not stick around for too long.
Why Does My Broken Wrist Still Hurt After a Year?
This is a common question we get after a car accident injury occurs. Wrist fractures can be very detrimental to your arm and hand strength, and they need to be treated and rehabbed properly. If they aren’t, you can experience pain and other problems for a very long time. Additionally, you may have had soft tissue damage alongside your fracture that did not fully heal, and that can contribute to long-term problems as well.
If you experienced a car accident injury that involved your wrist, whether recently or a long time ago, come in to AICA Orthopedics to get an evaluation. Our physicians are experienced in treating wrist fractures and other car accident injuries, and we offer comprehensive care and services to help you get the healing you need.