what to do after a wrist fracture the prehab guys

So you fell on your hand and it swelled up like a balloon. You find out you broke your wrist, experienced a wrist fracture, a FOOSH injury – you name it – it sucks no matter what. Next thing you know you’re in a cast for 4-6 weeks. Time goes by, you see the doctor and he says the bone is healed, you’re good to go! You get the cast removed, but you realize your wrist and hand look shriveled up and tiny compared to the other side. Even worse, it hurts to move it, your hand feels weak, you can’t even put weight through it, now what?! In this article, we will detail exactly what a wrist fracture is and some exercises to jump-start your rehab when you get your cast off. Learn all about what to do after a wrist fracture!

 

What Is A Wrist Fracture?

A broken wrist also referred to as a wrist fracture, is typically a break in the distal radius bone, which is one of the bones in your forearm on the thumb side. Wrist fractures typically occur from falling due to the natural reaction to try and break the fall by reaching out and landing on the hand. As you can see above, the more common wrist fracture to occur from a FOOSH (Falling Onto An Outstretched Hand) injury is termed a Colle’s Fracture. From the picture above,  you can also see that Smith’s Fracture also can occur which results in an inward motion of the wrist, but this is less common than the Colle’s Fracture.

READ: EXERCISES TO IMPROVE WRIST PAIN

exercises to improve wrist pain prehab guys wrist fracture

 

How Do I know If I Broke My Wrist? Should I Get An X-Ray?

distal radius fracture the prehab guys

Maybe you stumbled upon this article because you just hurt your wrist and you’re trying to decide if you should seek medical attention or not. Well, you’ve come to the right place! This is a really good question, so good that researchers decided to figure out who should and who shouldn’t get x-rays to save the health care system some money. This is considering the fact most people who present to the emergency room with wrist pain are referred to imaging, however, only 39% of people who experience wrist trauma will have sustained a fracture (1). The Amsterdam Wrist Rules concluded the following information…

 

The likelihood of having ANY type of wrist fracture is greater if…

  • Age (every 10 years of life increases the likelihood)

 

  • Male

 

  • Swollen wrist

 

  • Visible deformation

 

  • Distal radius tender to palpation

 

  • Pain with radial deviation

 

  • It DOES NOT hurt to compress/jam the thumb

 

The likelihood of having a DISTAL RADIUS fracture is greater if…

  • Age (every 10 years of life increases the likelihood)

 

  • Swollen wrist

 

  • Visible deformation

 

  • Distal radius tender to palpation

 

  • Pain with wrist flexion

 

  • Pain with forearm supination

 

  • NO PAIN with ulnar deviation

 

The bullet points in bold and italic held the most weight in regards to the likelihood of a wrist fracture. Thus if you have a very swollen wrist, a visible deformity of your wrist, and it is tender to touch on the inside of your wrist at the distal radius bone, it is likely in your best interest to seek medical attention and get x-rays to confirm if you have a wrist fracture or not.

 

So I Broke My Wrist, Now What?exercises after wrist fracture the prehab guys

It sucks to be stuck in a cast for 4-6 weeks. However, that doesn’t mean you have to be completely sedentary. Now we aren’t saying you have to lift weights like Terrelle Pryor did when he had a cast on, but don’t sit on your butt on the couch for a month! Technically you can still do cardio, lower body exercises, and even train your other arm. The common concerns are that you will be lop-sided and create asymmetries/imbalances if you only train your other arm. That is false! If anything training your other arm can lead to something called the crossover effect, helping to maintain the size and strength of your other arm!

 

So I Got My Cast Off, Now What?

wrist pain the prehab guys I remember in college I broke my ring finger playing flag football. I had a cast on for 6 weeks, it was the most glorious day getting that thing off. However, when the cast finally came off I was mortified by how my hand, wrist, and forearm looked. Even worse, I tried to move my hand and fingers and nothing was happening! It was SO STIFF. However, I knew what I had to do and that was simply getting my wrist and fingers moving again and using my hand as much as I could!

 

Have You Recently Suffered A Wrist Injury?

elbow wrist and hand rehab program what to do after a wrist fracture the prehab guys

The wrist is a commonly injured area, especially if you are involved in sports or manual labor. If you are dealing with wrist pain or just suffered a fracture, we have the perfect program for you!

 

Grip And Range Of Motion Exercises

With your average non-complicated wrist fracture, gentle introduction to gripping and range of motion exercises in every direction is exactly what your wrist wants and needs. Below you will find multiple videos to help get your wrist and hand moving again!

Gripping With Tennis Ball

Sample Wrist Rehab Program Exercise

 

Recently Sprain Your Wrist? Watch This Video!

 

Tendon Glides

 

Prehab Membership The Prehab Guys

The Prehab membership is the anti-barrier solution to keeping your body healthy. Access state-of-the-art physical therapy, fitness programs, and workouts online in the comforts of your own home or gym! Taking control of your health with exercise & education from the palm of your hand has never been easier. Get access to 50+ programs, 100+ unique workouts, and 3000+ exercises to build your own workout routines. Trial it for free, and learn how to get out of pain, avoid injury, and optimize your health with [P]rehab!

 

Wrist And Finger Circles

Sample Wrist Rehab Program Exercise

 

Hand Circles With Hands Together

 

Thumb To Fingertip Taps

Sample Wrist Rehab Program Exercise

 

Finger Spreads

 

Forearm Pronation And Supination

Sample Wrist Rehab Program Exercise

LISTEN: SHOULD YOU ICE AFTER AN INJURY?

should you ice after injury what to do after a wrist fracture the prehab guys podcast

 

Closing Thoughts

Wrist fractures are unfortunately a slow recovery. It can take a really long time, even up to a year, for your wrist to feel back to 100% normal as it did prior to the injury. This is especially true in regards to grip strength, being able to support all of your weight through that wrist and hand, and doing everyday activities using your wrist and hand. The bottom line is you have to be patient and remind yourself of how far you’ve come compared to day 1 of having your cast on. If you continue to have significant limitations and pain with your wrist, it may be in your best interest to seek help from a physical therapist or certified wrist and hand specialist.

 

Take Control of Your Lower Arm Health!

elbow wrist and hand rehab program what to do after a wrist fracture the prehab guys

The function of the elbow, wrist, and hand is not truly appreciated until discomfort comes along and limits its use. The shoulder girdle helps initiate movement of the arm but the lower part of the arm is the finisher! The lower arm gives us access to fine motor control and we cannot forget about the aspect that makes us human: opposable thumbs. Your brain perceives the hand to be so important that it dedicates a large chunk of the sensory area specifically to the hand. We are following the brain’s lead here and dedicating a program to regaining full lower arm function!

 

References

  1. Walenkamp MM, Bentohami A, Slaar A, Beerekamp MS, Maas M, Jager LC, et al. The Amsterdam wrist rules: the multicenter prospective derivation and external validation of a clinical decision rule for the use of radiography in acute wrist trauma. BMC Musculoskelet Disord 2015;16:389–97.

 

About The Author

Craig Lindell, PT, DPT, CSCS

[P]rehab Co-Founder & Chief Content Officer

craig lindell the prehab guysCraig is a South Jersey native & Penn State Kinesiology Alumni. When the opportunity came, Craig packed his bags and drove to California to pursue his Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Southern California. With [P]rehab, Craig oversees all digital content creation and multi-channel publication that reaches millions of people on a weekly basis. As a PT, Craig has a wide array of experience from working with various neurological conditions to working with collegiate & professional athletes across the Big Five in North American sports. Experiencing physical therapy first-hand as a soccer player in high school, Craig has a passion & special interest in adolescent athletic development working with young athletes to overcome injuries. In his spare time, Craig enjoys exercising, playing golfing, hiking, traveling, watching Philly sports, and spending quality time with his family.

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer – The content here is designed for information & education purposes only and is not intended for medical advice.

About the author : Craig Lindell PT, DPT, CSCS

13 Comments

  1. Annette DiGiamberardino July 18, 2020 at 7:50 am

    Thank you for the great exercise videos- they make it so easy to follow. I have had my cast off for 2 weeks ( distal radius fracture extra-articular clean break, closed reduction) now and am trying to not be discouraged. I try to push through the uncomfortable (twisting my arm – palm up and palm down is the hardest motion for me). My question is , how do you know that you are not hurting it more? Could I reinjure my wrist, cause more harm than good if I push too hard? I have a lot of swelling in my hand and wrist the day after PT, or vigorous exercise. Thanks again for providing these great how-to videos.

    • Sherif Elnagger July 22, 2020 at 9:35 am

      You are very welcome! Great question regarding the hurting it more. Typically, you will want to keep your discomfort at a minimal threshold (for example no greater than 3/10 pain on a pain scale). If you notice that your pain starts to increase more than that number and/or you discomfort still lingers after you finish exercise even into the next day, maybe you either did too much that day or you need to modify some ways you are doing certain exercises. Generally, it is ok to move and exercise through some discomfort, as tissues do need to be loaded appropriately to assist with the healing process! As long as there is that minimal, tolerable discomfort, and your discomfort does not become more moderate to severe nor linger after you finish exercise, then you know that you are at the right dosage! Best of luck :).

    • Sherif Elnagger August 2, 2020 at 5:41 am

      Hello! Thank you for your question. We are glad to hear you are finding our videos beneficial! Thank you for your support. Unfortunately, we are not able to respond to specific medical questions on this platform due to legality. It would be encouraged to continue seeking the advice from your physical therapist and ask these questions as he/she would be able to guide you regarding how you should feel during and after exercise! Best of luck to you and thank you again!

  2. Sarah July 24, 2020 at 9:32 am

    Thank you for these exercises! I just got my cast off – full fracture of the radius and small fracture of the ulna. 5.5 weeks with the cast. With regard to lifting weights, how much weight can I try to lift with my hand? I don’t want to stress it too much…do I go by pain and if it feels okay then I am good to go? I just want to get back to deadlifts! :)

    • Sherif Elnagger August 2, 2020 at 5:39 am

      Hello! Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, we are not able to respond to specific medical questions on this platform due to legality. If you would want to ensure you are exercising safely, following up with your healthcare provider who assisted you with the wrist and/or a trained physical therapist in person can give you more specifics on this. We also have some content related to deadlifts if you would like more information on this! If you go to the search tab at theprehabguys.com and type in deadlifts you will find information. Best of luck to you :)

  3. Luke Proctor August 16, 2020 at 4:02 am

    Hi , luke here (Dublin, ireland),

    Videos very beneficial. I’m currently in a cast for a broken wrist ( surgery Friday week ago went well) , there putting a lighter one on me this Thursday . Hoping to be back in work 4 weeks. Would you reccomend any exercises

    Kind regards

    Luke

    • Sherif Elnaggar August 25, 2020 at 7:15 am

      Thank you for your support! Check out our elbow, wrist, and hand program on our website!

  4. МАRIJA KATRALOVA KITANOV August 4, 2021 at 5:59 am

    Wrist injury. Only the echo was seen, and after 60 days I noticed a change in the joint, a protruding part. I did an X-ray and it shows that there was a fracture, and now it is healed. The wrist works well all the time. How can I help myself to reduce the protruding part of the wrist joint, a poorly healed fracture.

  5. Terri Koyl January 12, 2022 at 4:28 am

    Great wrist exercises for unstiffening my fractured wrist, was so glad I found these!

    • Team [P]rehab January 14, 2022 at 5:15 am

      Terri!

      So happy to hear this content has been helpful for you. Best of luck with your recovery!

      All The Best,

      Team [P]rehab

  6. DIANE RICHARDS February 6, 2022 at 8:36 pm

    i have a huge problem. I had a cast on for four months because i had a bad fracture and have osteoporosis. The cast has been off for four days and because I had the cast on so long it seems arthritis has affected my finger joints. I can’t bend my fingers the way you shoe in your video or move my wrist. I’m so upset that I will be this way permanently. I can’t squeeze a stress ball either. I try all day long to force my fingers to touch my hand but they are extremely stiff and I seem to be getting nowhere. Please help. my doctor told me to do exercises you show but to no avail. Will moving my fingers eventually lessen the arthritis where I can move my fingers again, I’m so depressed thinking I will be crippled the rest of my life. DIANE RICHARDS drichards973@yahoo.com

    • Team [P]Rehab February 7, 2022 at 3:46 am

      Hi Diane!

      We are sorry to hear about your recent fracture, as well as the difficulties you have been facing in regards to your fingers. Unfortunately, due to legality, we are unable to give direct medical advice through this platform, especially without being able to evaluate you in-person. There are many certified hand physical therapists who specialize in managing conditions related to the elbow, wrist, and hand. If you go to this website: https://aptaapps.apta.org/APTAPTDirectory/FindAPTDirectory.aspx, you can search for a physical therapist, and under the Practice Setting section, you can select “Hand and Upper Extremity”.

      If you are still having trouble finding a physical therapist, or are looking for more guidance from us, please email us at info@theprehabguys.com, and we would be more than willing to help guide you in the right path.

      All The Best,

      Team [P]rehab

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