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Occupational Therapy for Broken Wrists

occupational therapy broken wrist

Do You Need It?

There are several ways you can overwork your hands and wrists. Whether you work using a computer or a hammer, or a parent who carries your baby many times in a day while taking care of other chores, you may not realize how much you use your hands until they begin to hurt. 

One of the causes of hand and wrist pain is a fracture. People of all ages and backgrounds can suffer from a broken wrist or distal radius fracture. In this post, your trusted occupational therapist in Miami shares what you should know about broken wrists and helps you understand how occupational therapy for a broken wrist can help.


When is a Wrist Injury Classified as a Wrist Fracture?

If you’re wondering whether occupational therapy for broken wrist is effective, you need to know if you actually have one. Broken wrist is the layman’s term for distal radius fracture or Colles’ fracture. It occurs when one or more of the large bones in the wrist cracks or breaks. More specifically, a broken wrist occurs when the bigger bone in the forearm is fractured on its lower end, where it connects to the hand’s bones on the side of the thumb.


How Do Fractures of the Wrist Commonly Happen?

Colles’ fractures are quite common, which is why many people seek occupational therapy for wrist fracture. In the United States, an average of 1 out of every 10 fractures is a broken wrist. The most common way for a person to fracture their wrist is when they try to break a fall or catch themselves on their outstretched hand. 

Furthermore, a person is at a higher risk of breaking their wrist if they participate in activities and sports such as snowboarding or in-line skating. Individuals whose bones have become thinner and fragile because of osteoporosis also tend to break their wrists easier.

In general, you can break your wrist due to the following:

  • Falls
  • Sports injuries
  • Motor vehicle accidents


Do You Have a Broken Wrist? Signs and Symptoms to Watch Out For

It’s important to remember that experiencing pain alone does not automatically mean that you have a broken wrist. Below are the common symptoms of a broken wrist:

  • Pain, particularly when flexing or moving the wrist
  • Swelling and tenderness
  • Bruising
  • Wrist deformation, also known as dinner fork deformity, wherein the wrist looks bent

If you notice a combination of any of these symptoms, it’s best to seek medical attention immediately. By getting an early diagnosis, you will know what’s wrong with your hands and start occupational therapy for wrist fracture as soon as possible.


What Are the Types of Wrist Fractures?

It’s important to identify the type of wrist fracture that you may have because some types are more difficult to treat than others. Moreover, by knowing the type of fracture, your doctor and hand therapist can plan the best treatment and occupational therapy for your wrist fracture. 

The following are the main types of distal radius fracture:

  • Open fracture. If the bone pierces the skin as it breaks, the injury is classified as an open fracture. This needs to be attended to immediately to prevent infection.

  • Comminuted fracture. This is the type of broken wrist wherein the bone is broken into at least two pieces.

  • Intra-articular fracture. If the fracture extends into the wrist joint, it is called an intra-articular fracture.

  • Extra-articular fracture. If the fracture does not affect the wrist joint, it is classified as an extra-articular fracture.


What Treatments for Broken Wrist Should You Consider?

There is one golden rule if you want to heal a broken wrist fast: the broken pieces must be put back to where they belong and they should not move until the fracture is completely healed. There are two main types of broken wrist treatment:

1. Nonsurgical Broken Wrist Treatment

If the broken bone is in good position or not misaligned, then nonsurgical treatments could be enough to foster healing. There are also some instances where even though the broken bone is out of place to a point, it can still benefit from a good nonsurgical alignment, followed by proper and regular occupational therapy for broken wrist.  

Nonsurgical broken wrist treatment utilizes the following techniques:


    • If the broken bone is in optimal position, a plaster cast may be used to keep the wrist in place until the bone heals.
    • If the broken bone is misaligned, the orthopedic doctor may need to realign the broken bone, a process called reduction. Once the bone is back to its position, a splint or cast will be used to keep the hand and arm in place.
  • After about 6 weeks and if X-rays show that the broken bones have healed, the cast can be removed. Occupational therapy for wrist fracture should start at this point.

2. Surgical Broken Wrist Treatment

If the broken bones are severely out of place, surgery may be required to improve alignment. This surgery may involve installing devices to keep the bones in place as they heal. These devices include metal pins, plate, and screws, as well as an external fixator.

After the surgery, the hand and arm will be put in a cast. Once the bones heal, the patient can begin occupational therapy for wrist fracture. This will help with faster recovery and restoration of motion.


Do You Need Occupational Physical Therapy for a Broken Wrist?

Occupational therapy for broken wrist is vital in helping a patient recover from wrist fracture. Hand therapy in Miami can help restore proper and comfortable movement of the wrist, hand, and arm, especially after having a cast for several weeks.


How Long Does It Take to Get a Full-Range Motion of a Broken Wrist?

It could take anywhere between 6 months to a year before a person who had their wrist broken to regain full-range motion of their hand. However, with the help of proper recovery measures including occupational therapy for broken wrist, you can resume most daily activities within at least 3 months.


How to Ensure Quicker Broken Wrist Recovery?

A broken wrist can heal and recover faster when it is diagnosed as soon as possible. After alignment and casting, you can do the following to facilitate faster broken wrist recovery:

  • Elevate the wrist. This will help ease pain and swelling, if there’s any.

  • Ice your wrist. It’s advisable to ice the affected wrist for 15 to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours within the first 2 to 3 days of getting the wrist broken. Make sure to keep the cast or splint dry.

  • Take pain relief medication as prescribed. Take the painkillers prescribed to you as instructed and on schedule. Your doctor will likely prescribe NSAIDs such as aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen.


  • Secure occupational therapy for wrist fracture. Make sure that you get regular occupational therapy for your wrist.


For Professional Occupational Therapy for Broken Wrist, Count on Hands on Therapy

Having painful, dysfunctional hands can make life extremely difficult. This is why if you suspect you may have a broken wrist, you need to get it checked immediately. 

By getting the right diagnosis at the right time, you can also get the right treatment. With a combination of treatment methods including occupational therapy for wrist fracture, broken wrist recovery will be faster.

Hands on Therapy Services offers reliable occupational therapy for broken wrist. Our resident hand and occupational therapist can help you regain motion and movement of your hands safely and quickly. 

Contact or visit our specialists for a consultation. Along with our hand and wrist pain treatment services, we also offer 

For more information and to set up an appointment, contact us! We also invite you for a free discovery visit so you can meet our experienced and certified occupational and hand therapists.

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.

occupational therapy broken wrist

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