Open a PDF version to print this topic

HealthInfo Canterbury

How is a broken wrist treated?

The way your broken wrist will be treated depends on many different factors, including:

You may need surgery to put the broken bone back into the right place and hold it there until it heals if:

Less complex breaks that are stable (the bones don't move around) usually don't need surgery, but will need a cast to hold them in the right place while they heal.

Sometimes a break seems to be stable and is put in a cast, but as the swelling goes down the broken bones move apart and need surgery to put them back in place. For this reason, you will have regular X-rays while your wrist is in a cast, to make sure the bones stay in the right place while they are healing.

Things you can do yourself

There are several things you can do yourself to help your wrist heal, whether or not you are having surgery.

If you are not having surgery

Your hand and arm will be put into a splint or cast to hold the bones in place and stop them from moving. The cast will probably start at your knuckles and go almost all the way up to your elbow. This helps to keep your wrist bones in the right place while they are healing.

If the ends of the broken bone are not properly lined up, your doctor may need to move them back into place before you get your cast. You probably won't need surgery for this.

You will wear the cast for four to six weeks, but can probably start doing some gentle hand exercises after three weeks.

You will still have to take special care of your hand and wrist once the cast comes off.

On the next page: Surgery for a broken wrist

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by orthopaedic surgeon, Canterbury DHB. March 2017.

Sources

See also:

ACC help after an injury

Care of your cast

Page reference: 356785

Review key: HIWAH-240323