Wrist fractures

Last reviewed: 1 Nov 2022
Last updated: 01 Feb 2022

Summary

Definition

History and exam

Key diagnostic factors

  • presence of risk factors
  • wrist pain
  • tenderness over the distal radius
  • swelling
Full details

Other diagnostic factors

  • deformity
  • tenderness in the anatomic snuff-box
  • numbness in the fingers
  • hypo-aesthesia
  • open wound
Full details

Risk factors

  • trauma
  • osteopenia
  • osteoporosis
Full details

Diagnostic investigations

1st investigations to order

  • plain x-rays of the wrist
Full details

Investigations to consider

  • CT wrist
  • MRI (without contrast) wrist
Full details

Treatment algorithm

ACUTE

isolated fracture of distal radius

isolated scaphoid fracture

concomitant distal radius and scaphoid fractures

ONGOING

confirmed wrist fracture

Contributors

Expert advisers

Michael Barrett, MBChB, FRCS (Tr & Orth), PG Cert Med Ed

Consultant Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgeon

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Cambridge

UK

Disclosures

MB is a director of Orthohub.xyz, an online education platform for orthopaedic surgeons. Orthohub.xyz receives sponsorship from the healthcare industry.

Acknowledgements

BMJ Best Practice would like to gratefully acknowledge the previous expert contributor, whose work has been retained in parts of the content:

Niels W.L. Schep, MD

Trauma, Hand, and Wrist Surgeon

Department of Trauma and Hand Surgery

Maasstad Hospital

Rotterdam

Netherlands

Peer reviewers

Ramon Tahmassebi, MBBS, BSc (Hons), FRCS (Tr & Orth)

Consultant Trauma & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Clinical Director Trauma & Orthopaedic Surgery

King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

London

UK

Disclosures

RT declares that he has no competing interests.

Editors

Emma Quigley

Section Editor, BMJ Best Practice

Disclosures

EQ declares that she has no competing interests.

Rachel Wheeler

Lead Section Editor, BMJ Best Practice

Disclosures

RW declares that she has no competing interests.

Adam Mitchell

Drug Editor, BMJ Best Practice

Disclosures

AM declares that he has no competing interests.

Julie Costello

Comorbidities Editor, BMJ Best Practice

Disclosures

JC declares that she has no competing interests.

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