Operating on the wrist reduces the risk of arthritis at a later date to a minimum.
Are there any alternatives?
The decision to treat a wrist fracture with surgery depends on the nature of the fracture. In some cases it is better to operate on the fracture and treatment in a cast alone is not the best option.
What if you do nothing?
If you have no treatment at all, a displaced fracture will heal in the wrong position (mal-union), with an ugly swelling of the wrist.
If the fracture runs into the joint, you may also develop arthritis in the wrist within a year or two. Arthritis would make the affected joint inflamed and painful.
Who should have it done?
If your wrist is broken and needs an operation, and you are fit enough to undergo surgery, you ought to have the fracture fixed.
If you are fit enough for surgery, you ought to have the fracture fixed if:
- The fracture is displaced
- The fracture runs into the wrist joint
- Manipulation and plaster cast have failed
Who should not have it done?
If you suffer major medical problems, then it may be best not to have an operation and have non-surgical treatment instead.
Author: Mr Boyd Goldie MBBS FRCS BSC DHMSA. Consultant in orthopaedics & trauma.
© Dumas Ltd 2006