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Winter Falls & Wrist Injuries

Anyone can slip and fall at any time, but winter proves to be particularly tricky.  The snow and ice that the season often brings can lead to slippery conditions outside.  There are certain precautions you can take, but falls can always happen regardless of preventive efforts.

What Does it Feel Like?
If you catch yourself after a fall, there is a good possibility for a wrist injury. To keep things in perspective, I always say that it is better to break your wrist than to hit your head, so try not to panic. 

You’ll know that you’ve hurt your wrist if you experience persistent, significant pain and swelling and your wrist feels unstable or unsolid.  In this case, you’ll need to be examined by a medical professional.  Such an injury is worth getting an X-ray – your wrist could be broken or dislocated.

How is it Treated?
Depending on the severity, there are different ways to treat wrist injuries.  If the wrist is broken but the bones are still in alignment, a cast will typically do the trick.  However, some wrist injuries need realignment by an orthopaedic specialist.  A realignment procedure will require sedation.  For a wrist injury to require surgery depends on the alignment of the break and if it extends into the joint.

How Long Does it Take to Recover?
Less complex injuries take about two and a half months of recovery time.  More complicated injuries will most likely take four to six months to recover from and will require occupational therapy.

There are steps you can take to help prevent falls, but an accident can always happen.  Salting icy walkways and driveways and wearing appropriate shoes with good traction can help.  If you have issues with stability, it’s important to use an assistive walking device such as a cane or walker and to ask for help from a friend or loved one when you travel down stairs or walk in unfamiliar areas, especially during times of inclement weather.  Good bone health is important too; eating a healthy diet that includes plenty of Vitamin D and Calcium will help strengthen your bones.  Making your bones stronger helps protect them from injury in the long run.

At Wake Orthopaedics, we can always evaluate your injury if you have a concern.  Contact us at 919-232-5020 or visit our website for more information.

Dr. Casey Jenkins is an orthopaedic surgeon with Wake Orthopaedics.