Understanding the Basics Behind Hand & Wrist Pain
What is Fracture Management?
Hand and wrist fractures are relatively common injuries that can happen to anyone at any time. Often, fractures are the result of an acute injury, such as a vehicle accident, an athletic injury, or a fall at home. Fractures related to stress or chronic conditions can occur in the wrist and hand, they’re just much less common than in other weight-bearing parts of the body.
Fracture management aims to treat the fracture through stabilization and pain control. With the help and expertise of an experienced orthopedic specialist, Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance can ensure a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. With over 140 years of combined service, we utilize the best technologies and techniques customized to each patient.
After your initial examination with a KCOA physician, we will recommend the best treatment for your needs. Our practitioners provide the comprehensive care you need so you can return to the activities you enjoy.
Symptoms of a hand or wrist fracture include:
- Sudden intense pain
- Inability to straighten your hand, fingers or wrist
- Tenderness in the affected area
- Pain with movement of the joint
Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance hand & Wrist Assessment
Assessing the Injury
Determining the proper treatment process for hand and wrist injuries starts with an assessment from one of our experienced providers. You can think of hand and wrist pain as a spectrum, with some instances being more severe than others.
The KCOA orthopedic specialists always focus on each patient and their concerns before creating a treatment plan.
Therefore, during your initial appointment, we will often ask questions such as:
- Does your pain currently limit you or your activities?
- Has your pain progressed or worsened recently?
- How did the injury occur?
- Did you notice or hear a popping or cracking sound at the time of your injury?
- Have you noticed any change in your symptoms that has made it more challenging to function?
- What are your lifestyle goals?
- How has pain affected those goals?
From there, we can decide what treatment option will align best with your needs and lifestyle goals.
How it Works
Once we’ve completed a proper assessment, your provider will often begin with a physical examination to help determine the origin point of your pain. In some cases, advanced testing may be required for a full diagnosis.
Also called radiographs, an X-ray captures a picture of the wrist. Orthopedic physicians may order an X-ray to rule out the possibility of a fracture (broken bone), osteoarthritis, or other bone-related conditions.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
MRI captures images of muscles, bones, ligaments, cartilage, and tendons to help provide information other tests can’t detail. During an MRI, you will lie on a table that slides into a tube-shaped scanner. The machine creates a magnetic field around you, using pulsed radio waves to form the MRI images.
Establishing a Care Plan
Based on the results of your interview, examination, and imaging studies, you can expect a custom care plan catered specifically to you. Many people believe it’s best to wait until their pain becomes severe, leading them to “put off” or delay fracture management treatments.
If you are in constant discomfort, have shooting or stabbing pains, have limited range of motion, or increasing inability to perform your daily activities, fracture management treatments may be right for you. New technologies allow patients with severe hand and wrist concerns to fully recover and enjoy the benefits of a more active, pain-free lifestyle.
Prior to surgery, you will typically receive at least two phone calls:
- A hospital registration representative will call to gather insurance and other personal information.
- A registered nurse will call to review your health history and medication information.
Dependent on your health history, your physician may require:
- Pre-surgical laboratory tests
- Primary care clearance
Pre-operative instructions will vary depending on your physician and the location of your surgery. Always check with your physician before surgery for their specific instructions.
Most physicians require that patients do not eat or drink after midnight prior to a scheduled surgery. Additionally, you will need to designate a family member or friend to drive you home on the day you are released from the hospital. Surgical patients cannot drive themselves home.
Day of Surgery
If you schedule your surgery at Kansas City Orthopedic Institute, you can expect the following on surgery day:
- A receptionist will check you in at the registration desk.
- A nurse will take you back and prepare you for surgery. They will start an IV, prepare the surgical site, and review your medical history and medications.
- Your surgeon and anesthesiologist will visit with you prior to your operation.
- The surgical team will take you to the operation suite for surgery.
How it Works
Though your provider will look to exhaust any conservative or non-invasive treatments before recommending surgery, a more invasive procedure may be necessary if severe pain, deformity or a loss of function is present as a result of your hand/wrist fracture.
The exact procedure you’ll need to repair a hand or wrist fracture can vary significantly, primarily based on the extent of the damage. Your surgeon will evaluate the area and observe the damage using imaging studies, an open incision or arthroscopy.
Significant fractures may require a more open approach, which involves using larger incisions so the surgeon can better access, visualize, and repair the damaged area. We are always conscious about minimizing incision size, bone loss, and bleeding with any surgical procedure on the hand and wrist.
Fracture management typically involves stabilizing the affected bone(s). This process involves moving those pieces back in their proper alignment to allow for proper healing. Your provider may recommend a few different procedures, including closed reduction with percutaneous pinning or open reduction with internal fixation.
After your surgery, you will remain in the recovery room while our experienced clinical team monitors you, providing pain relief medication if needed. Many of our fracture repair patients are able to return home that day, but others may require a brief hospital stay. In most cases involving a hand/wrist fracture, a dressing set over the surgical site and we fit you with a brace, splint, or sling to ensure the area remains immobilized and protected.
You can expect swelling, soreness and bruising in your hand or wrist for several days after surgery. It’s important to keep your arm elevated with an ice pack after surgery to reduce swelling and soreness.
What to Expect
Your recovery will depend on various factors, including your health prior to the injury and the extent of the damage. Because of this, predicting recovery times is challenging, but it may take several months to regain normal range of motion, strength, and function of your hand and wrist.
Additionally, we recommend that patients exercise (walking for instance, if balance is not the cause of the fracture) and eat a balanced diet to help aid the recovery process from a hand or wrist fracture
Common Signs and Symptoms of Hand & Wrist Fractures
With so many different parts working together in your hand and wrist, there are many potential causes of hand and wrist pain. And each of those causes has a unique set of symptoms.
Hand and wrist fractures can occur in a number of ways, including direct blows, like a fall or impact from an object, indirect blows, or due to underlying conditions like osteoporosis. If you do have a fracture, you may notice symptoms like sudden pain, swelling, bruising, and more.
Causes of Hand & Wrist Pain
The body has a number of different joints that all work in unison in order to function normally. However, all of these different working parts means that your hand and wrist can face a variety of potential injuries, such as a fracture. How severe your hand and wrist pain is will vary depending on a few different key factors, including both the location and the source of the problem.
As with many of the other joints in your body, both the hand and wrist are susceptible to acute injuries, like a fracture. It’s rare to see a stress-related fracture in the hand or wrist, as the soft tissue of your hand and wrist, consisting of muscles, tendons, nerves, and ligaments, help to protect these joints and bones.
Whether you’re suffering from an acute or chronic injury, the hand and wrist specialists at Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance are here to assist. We’ll help you find the root cause of your pain and determine whether fracture management is right for you or if you require a different treatment. Common causes of hand and wrist pain include:
Generally, surgery is not the first choice for treatment at Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance. However, symptoms, malalignments/deformities and function will help guide our treatment recommendations for fracture management. If we can treat your hand/wrist fractures with more conservative treatments, we will do so. We typically exhaust all non-surgical options prior to recommending surgery.
Physical & Occupational Therapy
Seeking out guidance from a trained therapist to help restore function and strength is often a preferred treatment. Therapists are experts in the musculoskeletal system, and their ability to assist with manual techniques or exercise instruction can lead to excellent outcomes.
Immobilization involves the use of casts, splints, or slings to allow the affected area to heal. Using immobilization, we can protect the elbow fracture and allow the site to heal while reducing pain and swelling.
Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Advil) or prescription medications. Especially with NSAIDs, you should always talk to your doctor to ensure they are the right treatment for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance is here to help.
Our care is personal. Our team is knowledgeable. And we’re more available than ever.
With access to board-certified specialists across Kansas City, we have the tools to meet almost every musculoskeletal condition.
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Dr. Ting and his staff are the best!
Dr. Ting and his staff are the best! Sarah his nurse is kind and supportive. Dr. Tings nurse for surgery was absolutely the best! Dr. Ting, I have complete faith in. He is who I shall go to for anything he handles! Can’t say enough about him! Thank you all for making a scary time a completely peaceful event. You are the best!!
Staff is great
…just did my husbands hands on Wed. last week and can’t believe how well he is doing. We have already recommended you to our son and a few others. Your staff is great and my husband doing well. Thanks to you.
I left a very happy patient.
…I arrived a little bit late. I got checked in quickly and was back in a room within 10 minutes. Dr Rhodes was very friendly and took the time to pull up pictures of my surgery and show them and explain them to me. I left a very happy patient.
Dr. Scott Ellsworth is one of the best
Dr. Scott Ellsworth is one of the best I have ever worked with. He is knowledgeable, efficient, caring, and knows his patients. He has a special bedside manner that makes any patient in any situation feel comfortable. All of the nurses and office staff are wonderful as well.
I'm consistently impressed
In the process of treating my particular problem I’ve been to Apex probably 4-5 times. I’m consistently impressed by the professionalism of the staff and the amount of care & time they spend with me as a patient. They’re always very careful to make sure I understand the nature of the medical problem, the reasons for the diagnosis, and the type of treatment recommended. Stephanie’s care and concern is especially appreciated.