Q: Yesterday, my mother fell and fractured her wrist. The emergency room doctor splinted it and told us to see an orthopedic surgeon. My mother saw the surgeon, who told her she needed surgery. I was hoping that her fracture could have been set and cast and allowed to heal without surgery. She is scheduled for surgery next week. What do you think my mother should do?
A: Wrist fractures that do not involve the joint surface and are not out of place may be treated non-surgically with a cast until healed, followed by a rehabilitation program. Most wrist fractures, particularly in older patients, involve displacement of the fracture.
Even if properly set back in place and a cast is created, many of these fractures will heal shortened and angulated. This may result in limited motion, pain and a poor cosmetic result.
Therefore, the treatment of choice for the majority of these injuries is surgery to fix the fracture and hold it in place with screws and a metal plate. This allows immediate rehab, which gives the patient the best chance at achieving near painless motion and function.
If your mom is still not sure what to do, she may want to get a second opinion from a trauma or hand specialist.
Dr. Harlan Selesnick is team physician of the Miami Heat and director of Miami Sports Medicine Fellowship, Doctors Hospital. Send your questions to HarlanS@baptisthealth.net.