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HealthInfo Canterbury

Care of your wrist & hand following a fracture

If you have any questions, ask your physiotherapist, doctor or orthopaedic nurse.

Not all wrist and hand fractures are the same. It is important that you listen to the advice that the medical staff give you.

After removal of plaster you may notice that your wrist and fingers have reduced strength and movement, the skin on your hand and fingers is dry and scaly, and your wrist may ache.

Skin

If your forearm is dry and flaky, wash your hand and forearm in warm soapy water and then apply hand cream.

Bandages

If you are given a crepe bandage, this should only be for short-term use (the first few days). Remove for exercise sessions and at night.

Movement and strength

Even though your wrist and hand may feel weak and painful, it is important that you use your hand as much as possible for everyday activities, within reason. To start with you will have difficulty lifting heavy objects, such as a pot of potatoes, but by gradually increasing how much you use your hand, your hand strength will improve.

Short, frequent use to start with is the best. If you have a lot of discomfort after activities, a soak in warm water may help ease this.

Hand exercises

These are exercises that will help increase the range of movement of your wrist and hand, and therefore your function.

Do each exercise at least 20 times with a rest in between. repeat two to three times a day sitting at a table.

Resting your elbow on the table:

  • your hand is in the air
  • squeeze fingertips to palm
  • relax and repeat

With your forearm and palm flat on the table:

  • turn your hand over, aiming to touch the table with your thumb
  • stretch and hold for five seconds
  • relax and repeat

With your forearm supported on the table:

  • your hand is relaxed over the edge
  • extend your wrist and clench your fist
  • relax and let your hand drop

Written by Orthopaedic Outpatients and Physiotherapy Departments, Canterbury DHB. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Updated February 2017.

Sources

See also:

Broken hand bones

Broken wrist

Page reference: 33208

Review key: HIWAH-240323