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Quick Facts

Broken Wrist

(Wrist Fracture)


The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Feb 2021| Content last modified Feb 2021
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All broken bones are considered fractures. For more information, see Overview of Broken Bones.

What is a broken wrist?

Your wrist joint is where the 2 long bones in your forearm meet the 8 small bones at the base of your hand. A break in any of these bones can be considered a broken wrist. But doctors usually say "broken wrist" when you've:

  • Broken one or both of the 2 bones of your forearm

This kind of broken wrist is a very common injury. Breaks in the small wrist bones are less common.

  • A broken wrist is more common in older people

  • The bones are usually pushed out of place and need to be set

  • Usually you'll just need a cast, but sometimes doctors do surgery

See a doctor right away if you think you have a broken wrist.

What causes the wrist to break?

Wrist fractures are usually caused by:

  • Breaking a fall by landing on your palm or the back of your hand

Wrist Fractures

Wrist Fractures

What are the symptoms of a broken wrist?

You may have the following symptoms:

  • Your wrist is painful and swollen

  • It hurts to rotate your wrist

  • Your wrist may look misshapen

  • Sometimes, numbness in the tip of your pointer finger or trouble touching your thumb and little finger together

How can doctors tell if my wrist is broken?

Doctors do:

How do doctors treat a broken wrist?

Doctors will:

  • Give you pain medicine

  • Move your bones back into place

  • Have you wear a cast for several weeks

  • Sometimes, do surgery to put your broken bones back together and keep them in place

  • Sometimes, use a metal plate or external fixator (a metal frame outside your body with long screws that connect to your bones) so your bones stay in place while they heal

After the broken bone heals, your wrist will be stiff. You'll need to do exercises to loosen it up and get your strength back.

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