Broken Wrist What is Normal?

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I fell down the steps almost 3 weeks ago and broke my wrist. It was in a splint for a week. Its been in a cast almost 2 weeks. I did not have to have surgery. My question is how long does the swelling and pain last? Almost every morning I wake up my fingers and thumb are swollen but as the day goes on it lets up. I also have trigger thumb on my broken wrist arm. The fiber cast cast is really tight where it goes over my thumb and across my palm. I went back to my orthopedic dr as I wanted him to cut it off around my thumb but he told me no, said it has to be tight to heal. 

Also I am having a burning sensation on my skin under the cast. I have never broken a bone before so I don't know what is normal or not. Anyone experience the burning sensation?

 

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  • Posted

    Seems like you shouldn’t have a burning sensation...a little swelling is normal but did the dr not think the cast was too tight? Granted it does need to be snug in order to heal. I think my pain went away around the 2nd to 3rd week.  I broke my radius and ulna and I thought I snapped the main tendon on my thumb cause my thumb wouldn’t bend, but the dr. checked it and said the tendon wasn’t broken and  will slowly get better. Had cast off at 6th week. Expect to be in more pain just from immobility when cast comes off. Warm/hot water soaks were the best thing after the cast was off, and constantly moving my fingers. Make sure you get some physical therapy if you can, or you can look up exercises on the internet.  I’m pretty much back to normal but it took awhile (a year) but I’m 61. Good luck to you! But if your fingers turn blue,  your cast is too tight! 
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  • Posted

    Maggie,

    Sorry to hear about your accident.  Take a deep breath and plan on a lot of patience because a broken wrist takes more time to heal that I had ever imagined.  Broke mine 14 months ago and while it's pretty "normal" now, the old fingers are still a bit stiff at times and I don't think it will ever be as strong as before.  But what I really want to emphasize is that tight cast.  When I broke my wrist there was also a fracture near the base of the thumb.  The cast was SO tight near the thumb I just could not stand it (and I have a high pain tolerance.)   Dr. dismissed my concern but finally just cut the cast and wrapped an ace bandage around the cast to hold it together.  This did not solve the problem at the thumb.  When the cast finally came off, my thumb was literally fused in a very painful position.  I'll admit I have arthritis in my hands (I'm 74) but the idiot doctor told me my thumb had always been that way and I just didn't know it.  Oh believe me, I would have known it!   Never went back to him.  Found another hand ortho who did surgery and fixed the thumb in spite of the crumbling bones (which could be due to arthritis but I still blame the tight cast).  My thumb is OK now but I truly don't believe the surgery would not have been necessary if the first ortho had listened to me about the tight cast.  Your hand and wrist will swell for several months and but I do NOT believe a cast has to be the worst part of a broken bone.  Even the cast after surgery was tight from swelling; however, this ortho was happy to remove it and put on another.  A too-tight cast can cause serious problems.  I know of one gal who nearly lost a leg because a cast following surgery was so tight.  So either insist that doctor do something with the cast or find yourself another ortho (hand specialist) who will.  You probably have 2-4 more weeks in that cast and I know it is absolute torture when it's too tight.  In my case it was honestly worse than the pain of fracture or surgery. 

    When you're finally cast free, do go to physical therapy for a while.  I declined at first - another mistake.  They can tell you how to help yourself.  Again, don't be surprised that your hand will still swell even after PT.  It was 8 months before I could get my wedding ring on.  Both doctor and PT said 12-18 months for full recovery is normal.

    For now, keep your arm elevated as much as possible.  And ice packs are supposed to help even through a cast so you might try that too.

    I don't remember a burning sensation - what I remember most through the entire ordeal is the painfully tight cast.  I'm convinced that is not necessary and hope you will insist your doctor cut it off and put on a new one.  When my second doctor changed the tight cast following surgery (caused by swelling) I asked them to put more padding across the bony part of the back of my hand.  That also helped some.  I also put small pieces of foam under the cast around my thumb.

    Hang in there - it's a long ride,  But you may have to get a bit assertive with that doctor.  

    Keep us posted.

    Linda

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    • Posted

      I went to the hand specialist yesterday and they said oh my that cast is way to tight and they cut it off. I had water blisters on the palm of my hand. She did not put a hard cast back on but gave me some kind of brace to wear. She took xrays and said my wrist was healing good. It was such a relief when they cut that cast off. The person who cut it off said there was hardly any padding. It still hurts but not the horrible pain I was feeling.
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    • Posted

      Thank heavens you got that cast off!  I learned that lesson the hard way and from now on if a doctor doesn't listen to me, I find another doctor.  Hopefully you won't have to have another hard cast, but if so, tell them you want lots of padding and if it gets too tight, make them cut it off.  There is no excuse for this.   Wishing you a smooth recovery from here on out.

       

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  • Posted

    I am thinking of going to another dr but I don't know if my insurance will pay if I switch. He wanted to do pins but said it was a judgement call if I casted. Said if my bone was a little more off I wouldn't have a choice but pins. He said a cast would be very uncomfortable but if that was my choice so be it. I didn't want surgery so I told him to cast it. When I went back yesterday and showed him how tight it was and it was causing a sore  he said it has to be tight to heal. I wanted him to cut it off where it was going around my thumb and he said no. He more or less in a round about way told me I made the choice so live with it.Apparently he doesn't do cast anymore because his exray tech when she took a xray asked me who put the cast on I told her and she said he doesn't do cast anymore and when he put the cast on me he also told me it had been along time since he had put a cast on.I had heard from several people he is a good dr so I chose to go to him not realizing he specializes in knee and shoulder which I an sure he is very good at. It just doesn't make sense to me that he would not cut it off around my thumb as I have a sore. Im putting neosporin on it and put a small piece of moleskin to keep it as best I can off my thumb. I still have almost 4 weeks left. I need to go to a hand specialist but like I said I don't know if my insurance will pay for it. I need to check it out. I had bought a can of cast comfort for itching so I sprayed some of that and my burning stopped. I think I will call my insurance tomorrow and see what they tell me.

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  • Posted

    I can’t comment on the burning sensation. Yes, it does need to be right to immobilize the wrist for it to heal. As far as the swelling in the mornings, try to somehow elevate your arm when you sleep. Maybe stack a pillow or two next to you and rest your arm, or scoot down in the bed, put a couple pillows above you, and stretch your arm over your head and rest it in the pillows... whatever is most comfortable for you. The goal is to elevate your wrist above your heart/body. Same principle like if someone’s foot is swollen, they elevate it to keep swelling down. Essentially it’s just gravity pulling fluids/swelling/edema into lowest point, in this case your wrist. Hope this helps you smile
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    • Posted

      Well its been 8 weeks and I am in so much pain. When the dr cut the cast off at 3 weeks it felt so good for a few days then the pain started back. I mean excruciating pain. It feels like knives is jabbing me in the palm of my hand and fingers and the back of my hand. I fill knots on my palm. My fingers feel like pins and needles going through them. I've went through 2 bottles of pain pills, 3 bottles of Advil and Ketorolac which made me sick to my stomach plus Voltran gel. I have had a shot in my thumb and wrist. I have hardly ever taken any medicine my whole life and I will be 72 this month. I am on a 5 mg predosone pk right now. Nothing is seeming to help. I am going in physical therapy next week. I went back to dr Monday and she said my bone healed nicely but I am stuck with this awful pain. I am wondering since my hand was all cramped up in the cast for 3 weeks even to the point of blisters that Im wondering if I might have nerve damage. If so does anybody know if it eventually goes away? I do hot and cold and ice. I take all kind of supplements. I just don't know how much longer I can go on Im not sleeping at night. I bet I haven't slept all night in 5 weeks. The dr won't let me drive as I can't bend my fingers. I even ordered me cbd salve hoping that would help. Has this ever happened to anyone and what did you do. I am so desperate for some relief. I don't want to take anymore pain pills afraid of addiction. 

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  • Posted

    A cast shouldnt be too loose but it also shouldnt be too tight. if you are having any tingling in your fingers it certainly is too tight. However there shouldnt be a burning sensation and I think you should go back to have that cast reviewed
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    • Posted

      I went to my dr today and told him about my experience and he is sending me to another dr. I also forgot to mention I have a sore where it is tight around my thumb and it is really red and blistery. The nurse asked didn't he know a tight cast can cause compartment syndrome? Never heard of that so I looked it up.I sure don't want that.The dr he is sending me to he says is a wonderful lady and she is a hand specialist. I was up almost all night in pain so hopefully I will get straightened out soon. I know it is still going to hurt but hopefully not like it is now.

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