Ligament Injuries and Distal Radial Fractures

Distal radial fractures are a common type of orthopaedic injuries. In layman’s terms, this kind of injury is referred to as a broken wrist. When your orthopaedic doctor is considering the right treatment for your fracture, one of the things he or she will consider is whether co-occurring ligament injuries also exist. Ligament injuries are a common complication of distal radial fractures, but they may or may not impact your overall treatment or healing. Here is what you need to know.

What are distal radial fractures?

Distal radial fractures, or DRFs, are one of the most common types of orthopaedic injuries of the upper extremities. They occur in the radius—which is the largest bone in the forearm—on the distal end, which is near the wrist. Most of these injuries happen within an inch of the distal end of the radial bone. These fractures happen most frequently when people attempt to break their falls with their hand. Having osteoporosis increases the risk of DRFs.

How are the ligaments affected?

When the wrist snaps back, it is common for ligaments to become injured as well. It may be difficult to distinguish between the pain of a ligament injury and the pain of the fracture itself. Your orthopaedic surgeon may determine that you have a ligament injury through imaging tests. The ligaments may be strained, or they may tear completely.

How are DRFs with ligament injuries treated?

The treatment your orthopaedic surgeon chooses depends on the nature of your injury and the severity of the wrist pain you are feeling. In some cases, splinting allows DRFs and ligament injuries to heal, but in up to 50% of cases, surgery is required . Research indicates that, for many patients, separate treatment of the ligament injury is not required if the fracture is treated. Your doctor will decide what treatment approach is right for you.

The doctors at MK Orthopaedics provide comprehensive care for wrist fractures in addition to treatment for neck pain, ACL tears, and sports injuries in Joliet. Schedule an appointment for a consultation today by calling (815) 741-6900.

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