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Wrist Fracture in Adults


A wrist fracture

is a break in one or more of the bones in your wrist.

Adult Arm Bones

Signs and symptoms:

  • Pain, swelling, and bruising of your injured wrist
  • Wrist pain that is worse when you hold something or put pressure on your wrist
  • Weakness, numbness, or tingling in your injured hand or wrist
  • Trouble moving your wrist, hand, or fingers
  • A change in the shape of your wrist

Seek care immediately 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.

Treatment for a wrist fracture

will depend on which wrist bone was broken and the kind of fracture you have. You may need any of the following:

  • Medicine may be given to decrease pain and swelling. You may need antibiotic medicine or a tetanus shot if there is a break in your skin.
  • A cast, splint, or brace may be placed on your wrist to decrease movement. These devices will help hold the bones in place while they heal.
  • Traction may be needed if your bone broke into 2 pieces. Traction pulls on the bone pieces to pull them back into place. A pin may be put in your bone or cast and hooked to ropes and a pulley. Weight is hung on the rope to help pull on the bones so they will heal correctly.
  • A closed reduction is a procedure to put your bones into the correct position without surgery.
  • Surgery may be needed to put your bones back into the correct position. Wires, pins, plates or screws may be used to help hold the bones in place.


  • 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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.