Swollen fingers after cast removal for wrist fracture

Posted , 18 users are following.

Hi everyone,

I had my cast removed two and a half weeks ago after I broke my wrist - my fingers are still quite swollen and I was wondering what everyone else’s experience was with swelling after cast removal and is there anything I can do?


I am elevating my hand as much as possible and have got into a habit of holding my hand up when I walk around but people have told me just to position it as normal and let it swing and dangle by my side but am not sure?!

I attended fracture clinic last Wednesday and the doctor that I saw had no concerns!

0 likes, 29 replies

29 Replies

  • Edited

    This is normal.  My surgeon told me it may take 6 months to a year for the swelling to be completely gone.  I'm four months past the break and I still can't get my wedding ring back on.  I think elevating is a good idea, when I let it swing freely in the early weeks it made the swelling much worse.  Now it doesn't seem to matter too much.  Keep your fingers moving though - flex them several times a day - making a fist and then stretching them out.  A compression glove may help too.  Good luck.

    • Edited

      Thank you - I’m a terrible worrier and need a lot of reassurance that everything is fine!
    • Posted

      Hello - how are you? I’ve been thinking of you today following a physio appointment as I am now developing a frozen shoulder!

      I’ve been getting pain and stiffness in my shoulder for a good few weeks and went to my gp about this a couple of weeks ago and he told me I couldn’t have a frozen shoulder as I could move my arm above my head - whilst I can still do this my shoulder is feeling painful and stiff.  My physio has given me exercises to do and warned me that they would be painful and they are!! 

      It is so annoying because my wrist is getting better and nearly back to full movement and strength but now the immobilisation has resulted in further complications!

      Hope you are feeling better - take care!

    • Posted

      Hi Vanessa, Sorry but I just saw this.

      Mine did turn out to be frozen shoulder too.  By the time it was diagnosed I couldn't lift my arm higher than my chest - and back to having my husband put my hair tie in!  I got a cortisone shot June 19 and it was amazing!  Saw improvement within minutes and 3 days later it was my new favorite drug!  I could finally get my wedding ring on.  But the improvement was not a cure - just mostly helped with swelling, a little more range of motion with a little less pain. 

      I have been in physio for 7 weeks 2-3 times per week.  It's much better now.  I have range of motion to the front and side, but can't reach behind me or to my back.  That motion has improved only slightly since June.  Therapist and ortho think I'm doing well, but I'm frustrated with the slow progress.  I can at least tie my hair up, cut my food, pull up my pants and do most of my grooming.  But anything behind my back - well forget it!  Have also developed a stiff and painful next, therapist thinks could be related to lack of movement/use of arm.  Gee thanks, where else will a broken wrist take me?

      I hope you were able to get your shoulder under control and improve soon.  Please keep me posted and good luck!

    • Posted

      thanks for posting this reply. I broke my wrist in two places while accidentally slipping off a long steel bar trying to lift a boulder. i was in a cast for two months, and have been out of it now going on 3 weeks. my fingers are still swollen. I'm using my hand, using the therapy putty, and doing my stretching exercises I'm glad you said the swelling is normal.

  • Edited

    I know you have had a hand injury, but I hope this helps. I broke tib-fib and ankle in March this year. Surgery same day,3/13,was in a cam boot 2 days after no weight bearing. Still in cam boot,doing physical therapy. Hete it is, end of May,much less pain, but foot and ankle still swell when down for more than 45 minutes. I still elevate whenever not walking. My pt said it may swell more than a year. Wowza! Anyway, I am like you,I question everything, every move,every pain. It has been depressing initally, and I always want reassurance things ate fine, daily if I could, lol. Its normal,you're doing great, it wilk get better!

    • Edited

      Thank you - it’s not much fun is it! I got quite depressed at the beginning having to rely on my husband to do everything for me! I am only now just managing to tie my hair up myself! I have been referred to physio but no date yet- hopefully when I start it will improve the movement in my hand and fingers.

      Having reassurance from somebody else is a great help!

      Wishing you all the best with your recovery and keep in touch if you would like someone to share your worries with!

    • Edited

      Hahaha!  Yes! The hair!!  He tried so hard to put a hair tie in. Glad I can laugh about it now but I was seriously thinking of shaving my head!

      You can start therapy on your own.  Bend each finger at the larger two knuckles then try to make a fist. Do ten time each. Then repeat 3-4 times a day. Gently try to squeeze a foam/soft ball. Flex your wrist up and down.  Twist the wrist. Do it all gently. And just get it moving periodically throughout the day.  Keep your shoulder moving too. Large circles rolling the shoulder and large circles with arms out. The limited use of my hand caused later shoulder issues from minimal use.   Did not count  on shoulder problems from a wrist break!  I can’t reach behind me now. If only I’d known this could happen I could have avoided it.   Good luck

    • Posted

      Many thanks - yes, my hair drove me insane and was also considering chopping it off!

      Thank you for the exercise tips - my hand feels as if it doesn’t belong to me at the moment and I am constantly hanging it up like a puppy who has injured its paw!

      I am trying to make a fist but very hard with my sausage fingers - also a few of my fingers feel a bit numb, like they’re wrapped up in wool - I mentioned this to the doctor at fracture clinic last week and he wasn’t concerned and said that the swelling was pressing on my median nerve - hate the feeling! 

      I am trying to use my hand as much as possible to try and feel normal but get frustrated as my wrist is very stiff - can’t even cut up my food or use my right hand to feed myself!

      I’m very impatient and am hopeful that this will all come back to some sort of normal in time!

    • Posted

      Your injury is still pretty new.  Healing will take time.  I went through everything you are mentioning.  It took a long time for the numbness to go away - maybe 12 weeks, but it did get noticeably better after about 5-6 weeks.  Yes, hated the feeling too.  You may not be able to make the fist, and that is normal, but as you continually try you should see that it gets easier and closer to a full fist.  Same with the wrist, I still don't have full range of motion there, and pain when I try to push past that range.  I don't know if you have a weight limit on what you can lift, but don't push beyond that limit as it will hamper the healing.  You can also try heating about 10 minutes before doing some exercises and then cool with ice after.  You will get there, but it will take time.

    • Posted

      Thank you for your reassurance about the numbness  - I frightened myself by looking up my symptoms on Google and was terrified that I had permanent nerve damage! Even with carpal tunnel symptoms it said that it should be treated sooner rather than later to avoid permanent nerve damage! I must stop googling my symptoms!

      Hopefully I’ll get a physio appointment soon.

    • Posted

      How are you? I hope that you are progressing with your recovery!

      I had my first physio appointment last week and it was ok - the physiotherapist was pleased with my range of mobility at this point in time even though I feel that I have got very little movement - the hardest being trying to move my hand from side to side as if you are waving at someone- I can move it more one way than the other.

      How did you find your grip after your cast was removed?  My grip is very weak and physio suggested gripping a stress ball but I think I overdid it when I first tried as my hand went floppy afterwards - will squeeze gently from now on!

      I am finding that my fingers are aching more now - especially stiff and swollen in the mornings. Swelling and numbness still a problem though I do think that the touch sensation on my palm has improved but I am getting tingly patches in the back of my hand now towards my thumb - maybe it’s nerves kicking back to life!?

      The area around my wrist where the break is still feels funny, squidgy and slightly numb to touch - I will bring this up with my consultant at my next appointment in July as I worry about everything!

      Back to physio next week - I’m glad that it’s a weekly session- at least I can relay my concerns to someone in the meantime.

      Take care!

    • Posted

      Glad you are now in physio.  The encouragement mine gave me helped tremendously when I was feeling I should have been further along.  I have stalled my progression, beginning to think I may not get back to 100%.  I am using it as best I can, but strength is really poor.  Unfortunately my shoulder issues have gotten far worse and have an appointment for that in another 10 days.  Apparently it is bursitis but I'm back to not being able to do my hair and having trouble getting dressed.  Frustrating when I thought all I had to do was worry about my wrist!

    • Posted

      That must be so annoying for you. I have noticed that my shoulder is now aching after I held my arm in the same position every night when I had the cast on, just to try and elevate it to help with swelling! I will mention this at my next physio appointment on Wednesday to see if he can give me some excersises.

      It is really frustrating when you think you are making progress then take a couple of steps back. I have some good days and some not so good days but I know that it is still early days for me with regards to healing but at least now I can cut my own food!

      I am finding that the warm weather doesn’t help with the swelling - also my physio has told me to lower my arm as I kept holding it up in the air but I am concerned that this will not help with the swelling but I guess that I should put my trust in the professionals!

      Good luck with your next appointment for your shoulder- let me know how you get on!

    • Posted

      Hi hope you are well now.. I am at the beginning of the cruel painful recovery process.. cast off and now feel I have an alien arm, waiting for physio appointment.. my skin is like a Rhino, marked and sore with the cast being tight.. and flaky itchy skin- I am using arnica and loads,of moisteriser.. My hand is swollen and very tender.. I am reasured by reading posts on here..that what I m going through is normal.. after a dislocation of the wrist and break... Hopefully in time I will see more movement.. Thanks for telling your stories..

    • Posted

      thanks for posting this. I didn't even consider the shoulder factor!

    • Posted

      hi everyone. i posted my own post but no one answered me and i hope someone can reply. i had a wrist fracture 8 weeks ago. it was a tiny fracture but they put in cast for 6 weeks. i had to have it changed twice cause of tightness. anyway cast removed 2 weeks ago and swelling in my hand is bad. it is not just when i dangle my arm or at the end of the day but all the time. i sleep in the position im supposed to but still vy morning its not down. physio says this is unusual. anyone else with this problem

    • Edited

      good morning please excuse typos as only one functioning hand ! Radial fracture right wrist i just got my cast off yesterday , think my expectations were way off as regards functionality ! i can do less now compared to when my cast was on . reading all replies with great interest and thank you have given me hope.

    • Edited

      How are you getting on @Happynot? I hope your wrist fracture is recovering well and the swelling has improved. How is your wrist movement?

      I broke my wrist in July and am still recovering and trying to get it back to somewhere near normal.

    • Edited

      How are you getting on @Evelyn63? I'm interested in everyone's recovery as I'm 3 months post fracture and interested how everyone else is recovering.

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