The radius is the larger of the two arm bones and when it is broken on the end closest to the wrist, the injury is referred to as a distal radial fracture. These injuries are actually quite common and they are particularly common in females over the age of 50. A fracture of the distal radius is sometimes the first sign of developing osteoarthritis in the patient’s wrist joint.
If you have sustained this particular injury and have already received a diagnosis, you are probably now wondering what the recovery from distal radial fracture
injuries is like. The answer to that question depends on the type of treatment approach that is being recommended by your physician.
Distal Radial Fracture Treatment: One Goal, Many Methods
The primary goal of the proposed treatment plan is always to realign the bones back into their proper position in order to restore function and reduce pain. Depending on the patient’s age, health, activity level and the severity of the break, a variety of treatment options may be proposed.
Nonsurgical Approach: Of course, the conservative, nonoperative option
is always the preferred choice whenever it is thought to be realistically effective. When the bones are not too far out of alignment, a simple plaster cast can be applied for a period of time until the bones are healed. This process may or may not require an initial closed reduction of the bones to straighten them prior to casting. The patient will usually wear a cast for about six weeks and then follow up with physical therapy. Ask your surgeon for more information about recovery from distal radial fracture injuries that are treated nonsurgically.
Surgical Approach: If an open reduction (through incision) is required, it is usually because the bones are so misaligned that the closed reduction would not sufficiently reposition them. For the future health of the patient, these situations are best addressed through surgery with a follow up period of immobilization.
In extreme cases where the fracture is so severe that the bone has broken through the skin, immediate surgery is required. The patient must undergo the procedure within eight hours in order to prevent infection.
The surgeon will utilize a combination of either internal (plates, screws, etc.), external fixtures and/or casting or splinting in order to stabilize the arm during the recovery period. The most important factor during the recovery from distal radial fracture injuries is the stability of the arm and wrist
. The repositioned bones must be securely held in place until the healing process is complete.
Some Tips for Recovery:
Following surgery, take a pain reliever to manage pain and reduce inflammation
Keep your cast clean and dry
Keep an eye on swelling in your fingers
Follow all instructions for your recovery, including any recommended physical therapy