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Health Information Fixing Wrist Fractures Without a Cast

It's prime season for wrist fractures. Ice and snow-covered streets are the main culprits. Fortunately, advancements in technology and new techniques are allowing wrist fracture patients to get back in the swing of things faster than ever before.

In the past, it was not unusual for a patient with a broken wrist to wear a cast for six to eight weeks or, even worse, an external metal frame drilled into the hand and forearm bones. Today, broken wrists can not only be fixed through minimally invasive surgical techniques but patients can typically use their hand and wrist within days of the fracture.

This evolution of care is thanks to smaller implants known as locking plates. Newer plates designed specifically for the wrist eliminate the need for larger incisions and allow early return to function.

"The new plates are much more stable than older models. The screws holding the plate to the bone now lock into the plate creating a strong bond to hold the bone in place," says Mark Cohen, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

These newer, smaller plates, one of which Cohen has helped develop, allow surgeons to make a much smaller incision, less than 2 1/2 inches long, on the palm side of the wrist. Patients wear a dressing to keep the wound clean and a splint for three to five days. Therapy begins just days after the surgery.

"It used to take six to nine months to fully recover from a fractured wrist. With this new plate technology, smaller incisions, and early rehabilitation, some patients tell me they feel normal within two months," said Cohen.


More Information at Your Fingertips:

  • For more information about hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder care at Rush visit our Hand, Elbow and Shoulder Surgery Program home page.
  • For more information about other orthopedic care at Rush visit our Orthopedic Surgery home page.
  • For more information about joint replacement at Rush, including minimally invasive techniques for knee and hip replacement visit our Joint Replacement Program home page.
  • Looking for a doctor? Call toll free: 888 352-RUSH (888 352-7874)

Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.

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Fixing Wrist Fractures Without a Cast

   
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