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Colles' Fracture (Distal Radius Fracture or Broken Wrist)

What's the Treatment for a Broken Wrist? continued...

You will probably also want to:

  • Elevate your wrist on a pillow or the back of a chair above the level of your heart for the first few days. This will ease pain and swelling.
  • Ice the wrist. Do this for 15-20 minutes every two to three hours for two to three days. Be careful to keep the splint or cast dry while icing.
  • Take over-the-counter painkillers. Ask your doctor about nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin (except for children). They can help with pain and swelling. However, these drugs have side effects, such as an increased risk of bleeding and ulcers. They should be used only occasionally unless your doctor specifically says otherwise, as this may delay healing.
  • Practice stretching and strengthening exercises of the fingers, elbow, and shoulder if your doctor recommends them.

Most the time, these treatments will be enough. But sometimes, people with a broken wrist need surgery. Your doctor might suggest this if the bone is not likely to heal well in a cast. Sometimes, pins, plates, screws, or other devices are needed to hold the bone in place so it can mend.

When Will My Broken Wrist Feel Better?

Of course, what you really want to know is when you can get back in the game after breaking your wrist. There's no easy answer.

Here are some things to keep in mind during recovery from a broken wrist:

  • It might take eight weeks or longer for your wrist to heal. More severe breaks may not fully mend for six months. You and your doctor will decide when you are fully recovered.
  • Don't rush back into your activity too soon. If you start working out before your wrist is healed, you could cause more serious damage.
  • You may still have discomfort and stiffness in your wrist for months, or even years, after the injury.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions for taking care of your cast. Remember that casts cannot get wet.
  • See your doctor if the pain or swelling keeps getting worse after you get a cast or if you experience numbness in your fingers.

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