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In this orthopaedic health information video, orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Christopher Johnson talks about wrist fractures, a common problem that he sees in his practice.

Announcer: Orthopaedic health information brought to you by Professional Orthopaedic Associates.

Dr. Johnson: Hi. I'm Dr. Chris Johnson from Professional Orthopaedic Associates. And today, I wanted to talk to you a little bit about a common problem in my practice, which is wrist and their fractures.

So wrist fractures usually occur when somebody falls, which obviously can happen under a lot of different circumstances. Depending on where you fall from can determine how much injury occurs. Also contributing factors to wrist fractures are the softening of bone, which occurs with age, which we call osteoporosis.

In general, there are two big classes of fractures. And I have a little model here, which I think is helpful in explaining that. There are fractures that occur outside or away from their joint, and there are ones that extend into the joint. The ones that occur outside the joint are more common and are more easily treated than the ones that occur inside. But basically, what's really important is doing an assessment to make sure that we understand both the bone and the soft-tissue anatomy that's been disrupted by the fracture then trying to make a good decision based on the specifics of each person. So, you know, a cardinal rule is you treat the person and not just the injury, how old they are, what their hand pattern . . . usage pattern is, what they like to do, in order to make decisions together with the patient about how treatment should go on.

A lot of times, wrist fractures can be treated either with a cast or a brace. Sometimes, it may involve putting the fracture back into position, which we call a reduction. Not everyone gets the same treatment. Some people may need to have operative treatment. That has changed significantly in the past 10 – 15 years based on technological advances. And we now have a series of fracture implants that make it much more easy to treat the fracture and make it much more easier for the patient to recover.

Most patients that have wrist fractures can be treated successfully either with nonoperative or operative care and go back to pretty much the same level of function they had before their injury. And that usually will include return of range of motion. I like to tell people that fracture treatment is about one year's time. So you're gonna get better during that full one year.

Some people can develop long-term problems as a result of their fracture. One of them is they can develop a nerve irritation problem after the injury. Some people can also develop some difficulty with some types of motion as a result of their fracture. In general, again, this is a common problem. Early recognition of the problem, identification of a person's hand function, and expectations makes it best . . . makes us best able to personalize their treatment. And usually, we can end up with a result that's satisfactory for our patients. This is a brief review of a fracture problem of the wrist. I hope it's been helpful for you.

Announcer: This has been orthopaedic health information brought to you by Professional Orthopaedic Associates.