Wrist Fractures

Wrist fractures are breaks that occur in the bones that make up the wrist.


The wrist is made up of 8 small bones called carpal bones that are connected to the two forearm bones, the radius and the ulna.

The radius is the larger forearm bone and is the most common bone to break in a wrist fracture. A distal radius fracture occurs when there is a break at the end of the radius closer to the hand, or wrist, rather than the elbow. At times, the other bone in the forearm breaks. This is an ulna fracture. Breaks in the forearm bones typically occur 1 inch from the end of the bone.

The most commonly injured carpal bone is located near the base of the thumb and is called the scaphoid bone.

Wrist fractures almost always occur with a fall on an outstretched hand.


  • Pain

  • Swelling

  • Bruising

  • Wrist may look bent or deformed


Your child’s doctor will take radiographs of their wrist to evaluate the fracture and determine what type it is. Common types include:

  • Intra-articular Fracture: The fracture goes through the joint

  • Extra-articular Fracture: The fracture does not go through the joint

  • Open Fracture: The fracture goes through the skin

  • Growth plate fractures

Treatment Options

Non-Surgical Treatment Most distal radius fractures can be treated non-surgically with a sling, brace or cast. Your child is typically in a cast for 4 to 8 weeks depending on the severity of the break. Your child will need follow-up visits with your doctor which will include X-rays. Your doctor will use these X-rays to evaluate how the cast is fitting and the alignment of the bones. If the fracture is angulated, it may need to be realigned. This is called a closed reduction.

Surgical Treatment If a fracture can’t be realigned and it will affect the motion of the arm, surgery may be needed. In most cases, closed reductions are performed along with medication. In some cases, a fracture will need to be treated using open reduction as well as hardware such as pins, plates or screws to help realign the bone.

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