Distal radius fracture - one year on

Posted , 6 users are following.

So I have just noticed that it’s a year to the day that I broke my wrist and as I found this site so helpful at the time I thought that an update might be useful to someone else.

I broke my wrist slipping and falling on ice and knew immediately that it was broken by the pain and appearance. Unfortunately breaking a bone on the busiest A and E day of the year is not to be recommended...after an agonising wait the doctor on duty decided on a closed reduction without any pain relief, which was indescribably painful, and a half cast, which was replaced a couple of days later. Unfortunately the x ray two weeks later showed movement and I eventually had surgery on 18th January to fit a plate and screws.

The dressing came off after three weeks and I was shocked at how limited the movement in my wrist was. Rotation was almost non existent and I could only flex up and down a few degrees. Weekly physio started but progress was slow at first, despite a diligent exercise routine. In addition I was experiencing increasing sensitivity around the incision site and painful clicking with any movement that I could achieve. I returned to work after the dressing came off but was unable to write or turn my hand enough to use a keyboard, although thankfully I could drive (I am an advisory teacher so drive as part of my job).

At this  time I was feeling particularly low and beginning to feel like I would never regain proper use of my hand again. Simple things like cutting up my food and washing my hair were still really difficult. Luckily at the end of March a physio friend gave me some device and in my last appointment at fracture physiotherapy I stressed the problems I was having and was referred back to a hand specialist physiotherapist.

From this point onwards things finally started to improve. I was given some desensitisation exercises to improve the pain around the incision and a silicone gel patch. By this time even light brushing against my clothes was painful so I was relieved when this started to feel better. I was also given a comprehensive exercise schedule and my hand function steadily improved until I finally was discharged in June.

One year later and I feel confident that my wrist is almost back to normal. My scar is quite red and raised but no longer painful. The painful clicking has stopped, rotation has completely recovered and flexion/ pronation has recovered to about 80%. I still have some way to go to build up strength but am going back to yoga and can do most weight bearing exercises for a short period of time.

My advice to anyone with this injury is to be prepared for it to take time and effort and to push for a specialist referral if improvement in the first three months is slow. However the majority of these injuries do improve and hopefully your recovery will eventually be as good as mine has been.

3 likes, 6 replies

6 Replies

  • Posted


    ?I too broke my distal radius nearly 14months ago which resulted in plate & screws being inserted. However, my recovery has been quite slow & painful to the point where I had the plate & screws removed a few months ago & MUA performed at the same time.

    ?I can bend my fingers slightly but still cannot make a fist without using my other hand to help it along.

    ?CRPS was a major problem along with FS. I had hydrodilitation to try & correct  the shoulder after months of excruciating pain, this has been about 75% successful as I still do not have full movement or yet to be pain free.

    ?After seeing my surgeon 2 weeks ago I am to have a 3rd procedure, but if not successful they will perform surgery the same day.

    ?This has been a curse for want of a better word, yet I have done all required by my hand specialist since the beginning.

    I live in hope I will be pain free & able to move my wrist backwards & forwards very soon, to be able to style my hair, to be able to pick things up easily etc etc.

    I do love to hear of success stories as it gives me some hope.

    I hope the next time I write an update it will be good news....fingers crossed...


    • Posted

      Hi Elaine. Sorry to hear you need a third procedure -can I ask what they will be doing.? I too still have limited movement in pronation/supination and have had my plate a screws removed and a MUA in June this year. I’m now 20 months post fracture and still “disabled “. The consultant wants to do another op on me too but I’m loathed to go there again. She said she will go in again ( another wound this time) and stretch the ligament  get rid of scar tissue ( if I have any). With the CRPS I don’t think I can cope with it all But So want to be normal again ... this just goes on and on!
    • Posted

      Hi Vicky,

      Such a long time for you too!

      The surgeon wants to manipulate my wrist under local anaesthetic without opening the old scar.

      He told me there's a risk of fracture but if he can see its to no avail he will open up & remove as much scarring as possible. They did this to try & get movement back in my fingers....its about 50% improved.

      I too am hesitant, because it means another wound, recovery again & more physio etc. There is only so much I can take. My CRPS is at risk of getting worse also!!

      The movement in my wrist is virtually nil backwards or forwards.

      Also FS hasnt completely gone after treatment for that. It is never ending as you know.

      I do not know when my procedure will be carried out but I hope its very soon.

      This will be my last op as I could not face it anymore.

      I wish you all the best in whatever decision you make....do keep in touch.

    • Posted

      Hi Elaine, so sorry to hear your story and wishing you some improvement soon x
    • Posted

      Thank you Amanda, I am so glad I found this site, makes me realise I'm not the only one with this dreadful injury.

      Hopefully I will have my treatment very soon...

  • Posted


    So glad you provided an update.  I broke my distal radius on May 4 of this year.  Also closed reduction.  Cast was extremely painful due to a second fracture near the thumb that the ortho doctor ignored.  (ER doc had mentioned it and so did second ortho doctor.)  When cast was removed at 6 weeks my thumb was fused and extremely painful.  I finally sought out another hand specialist (yes the first doc was one).  Second doctor offered surgery as the only option to relieve my thumb.  Since I'm older and have arthritis he did  arthroplasty surgery on the basal joint and also repaired the first thumb joint (forgot the name.)  Surgery was successful and healed nicely.  I still have stiff, sore fingers and pain in the wrist if I move it wrong or fast, and strength is a bit limited.  So you are right that it takes  a long time to get anywhere near normal.  Like you, I'm probably 80% there and still working on it.  I had no idea it would be such a long drawn-out ordeal so I would urge anyone with this injury to have patience.  Don't expect things to be normal in a month or two, or three.  Both doctor and PT said it could be 12-18 months for healing to complete.  

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