Q: Last year, I broke my wrist and did not need any treatment other than a cast followed by physical therapy. At my last visit, my doctor told me that my fracture had healed in good position, but I still have pain made worse with use. What could be the cause of my pain?
A: Wrist fractures are one of the most common fractures of the body, mostly involving the radius and ulna bones. With proper treatment, most of these fractures go on to heal without any problems. However, there are some patients who continue to experience varying degrees of pain or loss of motion. The reasons for such disappointing results are many but are often caused by damage to other structures surrounding the bones, such as ligaments or cartilage, that also occur at the time of injury. Fortunately, most of these associated injuries heal at the same time the fracture heals and are never noticed. There are some occasions, however, when they do not heal properly and cause problems that require further treatment. For patients who experience such problems, evaluation includes making sure the healed bones are in an acceptable position. If necessary, surgery to re-align the bones can be performed. For those with ligament injury or cartilage damage, the temporary use of braces or a steroid injection into the painful site or even surgery may provide the desired relief.
-Dr. Robert Mastey, Center for Sports Medicine & Orthopaedics; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society
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