Because fractures of the distal radius and the wrist bones are high energy injuries, there are often other associated complications. The soft tissues in the hand and wrist are sensitive and vulnerable to injury. Bleeding and swelling around a fracture can compromise nerve function and circulation. A condition called compartment syndrome can develop, where bleeding inside a tight muscle compartment in the forearm after the bone breaks can lead to progressive loss of function in circulation, and nerve function, and in muscle function. If left untreated and undiagnosed long enough, it can actually lead to tissue death, loss of muscle, permanent damage to nerves, and even loss of an extremity. The best way to know if this is happening is the gradual progression of increasing pain, pain that initially is mild to moderate and then becomes severe, excruciating and unrelenting. Anyone experiencing that who has a fracture or believes they may have a fracture in their wrist should seek immediate medical attention to be certain that they're not experiencing compartment syndrome. Compartment syndrome is a true medical emergency, and it needs to be addressed immediately with appropriate surgical attention.
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