broken wrist

Caring for a broken wrist

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A broken wrist is a condition where there is a crack or break in one or more bones found in the wrist or hand. It usually caused by trying to catch a fall and landing on outstretched hand. People playing snowboarding or in-line skating and having a condition such as osteoporosis where the bones becomes fragile and thin are more susceptible to this condition.

In severe cases, the break can spread into the joint of the wrist; broken bones can break through the skin and bones can be broken in several places. Sometimes the pieces of bones move out of place. These broken pieces can damage the blood vessels or nerves and ligaments can be torn.

broken wrist
Put the arms and wrist in a splint to prevent unnecessary movement.

Symptoms of a broken wrist

  • Tenderness
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Pain, especially when flexing the wrist
  • Deformity of the wrist, and looks crooked and bent


  • Take plenty of rest especially the affected area.
  • If the break is severe and there is bleeding, cover the wound using a sterile bandage. Elevate the area above the level of the heart and apply pressure until bleeding subsides.
  • Put the arm and wrist in a splint to prevent unnecessary movement. Make a simple splint by wrapping the wrist using magazines or bath towels and secure the wrap with strips of cloth. Put padding on the splint to lessen the pain. Use a bandana or large cloth to make a sling to hold the affected wrist against the chest. Wear the sling for a few days to weeks to lessen the swelling and for fast healing of the condition. Another alternative is putting the area in a cast for at least for 6-8 weeks depending on the severity of the break.
  • Elevate the affected wrist above the level of the heart to lessen the pain and the swelling. When lying down raise the area in couple of pillows to keep it elevated.
  • Apply ice on the area for at least 15-20 minutes every for 2-3 days to lessen the swelling and numb the pain around the affected wrist. Fill a plastic bag with ice cubes and then wrap it using a towel or a cloth before placing to the area to prevent further irritations and delay the healing. Another alternative is using bag of frozen vegetables such as corn or peas as substitute for ice packs. Keep splint dry when applying ice compress on the area.
  • Prescribed over-the-counter pain medications to lessen the swelling and the pain.
  • Perform stretching and strengthening exercises with the help of the physical therapist to rehabilitate the muscles of the wrist and hands. It will also restore range of movement of the wrist and hands.


  • Wear appropriate safety equipment for the body such as seat belts, using wrist guards when playing skateboarding and in-line skating. Appropriate padding for contact sports

Disclaimer / More Information

The material posted on this page on a broken wrist is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize the indications by taking a first aid and CPR class with one of our training providers.


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