Wrist fractures

Fractures of the distal radius are common and many heal well in a plaster or a splint without the need for surgery. However, some that extend into the joint, or change the position of the wrist, or are very displaced may fare better with surgery to re-align the broken bone.

Mr Wharton takes a patient specific approach to the management of distal radius fractures, and carefully talks patients through the risks and benefits of both surgery, or allowing the fracture to heal in its current position. This helps patients understand what their function might be like if the bone heals in the broken position, and therefore helps them make a decision about whether to undergo an operation or not.

If surgery is recommended this is done as a day case procedure under either general (asleep) or regional (nerve block around the shoulder) anaesthetic. The tendons and nerves are gently held out of the way, and the bone is re-aligned using a mobile x-ray machine to confirm the correct position. The bone is then held in position with plates and screws. A plaster is applied for one week after the surgery, and then the patient is encouraged to move the wrist under the supervision of a hand therapist. The hand should be elevated for five days after surgery and the wound must be kept clean and dry for two weeks.