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Wrist Fracture in Adults
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
A wrist fracture is a break in one or more of the bones in your wrist.
Return to the emergency department if:
- Your pain gets worse or does not get better after you take pain medicine.
- Your cast or splint breaks, gets wet, or is damaged.
- Your hand or fingers feel numb or cold.
- Your hand or fingers turn white or blue.
- Your splint or cast feels too tight.
- You have more pain or swelling after the cast or splint is put on.
Call your doctor if:
- You have a fever.
- There is a foul smell or blood coming from under the cast.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
You may need any of the following:
- Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
- NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
- Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Read the labels of all other medicines you are using to see if they also contain acetaminophen, or ask your doctor or pharmacist. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly. Do not use more than 4 grams (4,000 milligrams) total of acetaminophen in one day.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
- Rest as much as possible. Do not play contact sports until the healthcare provider says it is okay.
- Apply ice on your wrist for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel before you place it on your skin. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
- Elevate your wrist above the level of your heart as often as possible. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your wrist on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.
Cast or splint care:
- You may take a bath or shower as directed. Do not let your cast or splint get wet. Before bathing, cover the cast or splint with 2 plastic trash bags. Tape the bags to your skin above the cast or splint to seal out the water. Keep your arm out of the water in case the bag breaks. If a plaster cast gets wet and soft, call your healthcare provider.
- Check the skin around the cast or splint every day. You may put lotion on any red or sore areas.
- Do not push down or lean on the cast or brace because it may break.
- Do not scratch the skin under the cast by putting a sharp or pointed object inside the cast.
Go to physical therapy as directed:
You may need physical therapy after your wrist heals and the cast is removed. A physical therapist can teach you exercises to help improve movement and strength and to decrease pain.
Follow up with your doctor or bone specialist as directed:
You may need to return to have your cast removed. You may also need an x-ray to check how well the bone has healed. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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