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Distal Radius Fracture – Diagnosis

January 27, 2021


“If you’ve had a fall and you believe you may have a wrist fracture, a fracture of the distal radius or one of the other wrist bones, it’s important to get medical attention. Don’t wait, go to an emergency room, go to an urgent care facility or call your doctor and ask if they can refer you to an appropriate hand specialist. The first thing that specialist will do or that they will perform in the emergency room is a quick history to determine how you were injured and an examination to try to figure out where your injury occurred and how severe it might be. If a wrist fracture is suspected, then x-rays are always performed. The x-ray is how we determine whether or not the bone is broken. There are some bones in the wrist, the scaphoid in particular that can break, but not be apparent initially on the first set of x-rays.

So symptoms that suggest that the bone may be broken with a negative x-ray do not always rule out a fracture. And it’s important to be careful to pay attention to your symptoms and to present for re-evaluation within 72 hours if the symptoms persist and especially if they get worse. Further imaging with repeat x-rays or an MRI may be necessary to confirm an accurate diagnosis and tell if you’ve broken your wrist. A wrist fracture, can’t be diagnosed by everyone. Simply seeing a school nurse without medical imaging or without a thorough medical examination or asking your neighbor if they think you broke your wrist is not a good way to determine whether or not you have a serious injury and this needs appropriate medical attention. If you’ve had a fall or been involved in an accident and you have wrist pain, that’s more than what you would consider mild. And if the pain persists and you have swelling and bruising, and you’re losing function in the hand, you can’t move your wrist normally, or you’re losing feeling. You should absolutely seek medical attention from an appropriate medical expert, an emergency room, an urgent care center, your primary care doctor, or call a hand surgeon and go to their office for evaluation and treatment. X-rays will have to be performed to see if in fact you have a broken bone in your wrist.”

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