Broken wrist 2 places

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i was pulled over by a high spirited dog yesterday and fell on mt left arm at Er found distal radial and i believe ulnar fracture. it is excruciatingly painful...splinted and in a sling until swelling goes down and i see my orthopedic surgeon just healed from broken left foot...ugh my question is this... the pain from this break is almost unbareable... I AM ICING and taking prescribed percocet but still extremely painful! any suggestions for pain control other than icing? How long for this break to heal and when does the pain reduce? THANKS!!

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6 Replies

  • Posted

    I feel your pain, well felt it, literally. I was there last January. There is a different story for every injury because the injuries/patients are all different. I found it so painful that the opioid I had (don't remember which one) really didn't seem to cut it. It was consuming. I quit the opioid (scared of getting hooked) and switched the Extra Strength tylenol. Honestly it seemed to help just as much. The pain will eventually abate. For me it took about 3 days til I felt I could think straight. I was icing nearly all the time for about a week, then a few times a day after that. I think I was probably on the Tylenol for 3-4 weeks. Still painful after that. I still have discomfort, wouldn't call it pain.

    Not sure if both your radius and ulna are fractured or if the radius was actually broken. My radius was snapped and ulna fractured in two places, all distal. Arm shaped like a Z. I was lucky that I was able to get surgery within 24 hours. So my pain already has a different story than yours. My pain when the break occured was the worst I've ever had (and I've given birth twice with no pain meds or blocks) and gave me a new definition of "10". Surgical pain was a welcome. I ended up with a plate and 7 screws. When the block wore off the surgeon warned there would be a "tsunami of pain". He wasn't kidding. I was on the opiod until the surgery and maybe 2 days post, that's when I switched to tylenol.

    If you have fractures and don't need the surgery then I would think your healing will be similar to your foot (what is it with your left side? lol) but amped up, a lot. The wrist is a very complicated part of the body.

    If you do have to have surgery there are some things to be aware of:

    1. One day after the swelling was so great and confined in the plaster splint. The pain from that was intense and overshadowed the pain of surgery. Once that was removed it was instant relief and the Tylenol kept me functioning as much as I could. Function was still low (but some flip top toothpaste - I couldn't even unscrew regular tubes). Pain at that point was maybe 4 at rest but would spike to a 7-8 if flexed too far/quickly or if two much weight was lifted.
    2. Get to therapy as quickly as possible - my ortho started me at 4 days post op (when the splint came off) and follow the home exercises exactly. As I saw improvement I did more (if 3 reps are good, then 5 must be better) and ended up doing damage, had to back off the regular schedule and regressed. Some exercises they gave me sometimes left me in tears with the realization I couldn't do simple things (like flip over cards one at a time from a full deck). But you do see progress and it does get better.
    3. Keep your shoulder moving! Do large arm swings, stretch it out, up, front, back, up your back. Move it every way possible. Inactivity of mine led to frozen shoulder, so just as I was getting approval for unlimited activity for my wrist (about 12 weeks), my shoulder had locked down. I was finally released from shoulder therapy just 3 weeks ago. It could have been prevented if I had kept the shoulder moving.
    4. This may not happen to everyone but I was not prepared for sweating in over drive. It was like a dripping faucet under each arm. Had to switch to prescription strength and it was still bad.
    5. Swelling will take a very long time to go down, 6-12 months. I'm almost there.
    6. You will need help. If you live alone try and get someone to stop in. I needed help with my hair (and all I do is a ponytail), taping a bag on to keep it dry during my shower, and having someone pour out the shampoo, conditioner, body wash, help with food prep (needed my food cut), dressing , etc. As strength and range of motion returns this gets better.
    7. Everyone is different. Others I met in therapy with similar injuries made faster progress and some slower. Some had minimal pain (one tried to realign her bones herself!!) and some excrutiating.
    8. My surgeons definition of "full recovery" is different than mine. He defines it as range of motion and strength to carry out daily functions, but that doesn't mean full strength or full range of motion is restored.

    Good luck! I am sending you warm thoughts and virtual hugs. It does get better. Please stay in touch with your progress. If you end up with a plate and surgeon wants to later remove it (again, differs by patient) I can share on that, too.

    • Posted

      Should probably have proofread first! I meant in number 1 to "buy" flip top toothpaste, in 3 meant to add that shoulder hurt horribly, not just stiff, in 4 prescription strength deodorant, and in 6, taping the bag to cover the surgical wound (not my hair as it reads).

    • Posted

      Wow what a comprehensive and awesome reply, your situation was very like mine in December 2016 I now have very little pain, mine was my right wrist and I am right handed! I go for deep tissue therapy every 5 weeks which is helping because I had muscle issues after the surgery. I was not helped in my recovery when I developed anxiety issues (never had them before) and was scared to walk in case I fell and damaged my wrist again, 3 weeks before my accident (fell over my beagle) I had been horse riding on ranches for a month! So anxiety is not my default, but it was I think because I lost control of my life for 3 months and had to get others to do so many daily things for me. But.....all is good now and life is back to normal, but for the odd 'twinge' in the tendons of my right forearm. I agree do the physio even if it is boring and seems hopeless at times. I remember weeping because I could not rotate my wrist whilst holding a wooden rolling pin (one of the exercises I was given) I thought it would never function again but it is all fine now.

    • Posted

      So glad you are nearly 100% back. So many people have this injury. Mine was January and was a slip on black ice. That week alone there were 5 broken hips from the same reason. Met about 9 others in physio with broken wrists, I know there were many more and we just never crossed paths. What kept me going was being thankful that it was not my hip, was not my dominant arm, most recovery time was in the winter and a number of other things I kept telling myself that would be worse.

      Do you still have your plate? My ortho pushed me to take mine out because 2 screws were all the way through the bone and sticking out the other end. He knew it would cause future problems. I was not looking forward to starting the whole process over, and he assured me that surgery was much easier. Had it done 10 days ago and it was a piece of cake! I was expecting about 40-50% what the original surgery was, but it was more like 10%. I hope to be back to where I had been within a month or two.

      I understand your anxiety. My husband and I would walk 2-3 miles every morning before sunrise. Absolutely loved it. Walking now I spend all the time looking down. My new rule is no more walking in the dark (which was always so peaceful). Now that we are getting the cold weather again, I'm getting extremely nervous. We walk on ungroomed paths through fields and woods. I've bought cleats for my winter boots and hope that can ease the anxiety.

      Stay healthy, get back to riding and watch out for that doggie!

  • Posted

    I feel for you as there are times that I walk my parents dogs which I hate in the winter months... But have you tried soaking your wrist is Epson Salt? Some people swear by this helping with the swelling and aches. Could be worth a try.. Take Care

  • Posted

    In January 2017, I slipped and fell on an icy street, and landed on my elbow. I shattered my elbow, 15 fractures (?), and I broke my ulna clean through across from the radial head (which also had several fractures). 2 weeks after that, my PT re-broke my ulna by dropping my arm and holding it there during therapy. 6 weeks later, I slipped on a cat toy and fell down my stairs, and landed on the same elbow. I shattered everything bad enough this time that they had to put several plates and screws in. 2 weeks into recovery from that, my radial head dislocated and smashed through everything left in my elbow. I had to have a radial head replacement, a collateral/lateral ligament reconstruction and a few more small plates and screws. I have gained more function of my elbow than my surgeon ever thought I would. In total, I was in a cast from shoulder to wrist for 6 months. I was left with CRPS, and recently had to have the biggest plate removed because it was trying to come through my skin. I'm working hard to get the CRPS into remission and get back to work. It was so bad that I lost my job 6 months in. I just cant wait to get back too it! 😃

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