FAQ Category: Wrist


I had an ORIF with a volar fixed angle plate placed 2 days ago.  I am supposed to keep my wrist in a splint for 2 weeks before I am allowed to do anything.  Is this normal?  I would think that my muscles would waste away in that time.  

The protocol that your surgeon gave you sounds like the standard protocol– no movement for two weeks and no strengthening until week six.  A recent article has found it to be more beneficial, however, to begin passive motion fairly immediately and strengthening as soon as two weeks. This would be […]


How long is the recovery for a radial fracture and what can I expect during my recovery time?  I recently fell while skiing and have to have an “ORIF with a fixed volar angle plate.” I am a golfer and want to get back to my game this summer.

Typical recovery from this type of injury does take awhile but you can expect near to full recovery with the proper rehabilitation. A recent study found quicker return to normal function and decrease in pain with early motion and strengthening following the surgery versus the standard protocol of waiting for […]


I’ve heard doctors say we shouldn’t rely on the Internet for medical information but sometimes it helps. I’ll tell you my situation. I fell and injured my wrist and had an X-ray that showed a “crack” and “slight” shift of the scaphoid wrist bone. Suddenly, I’m scheduled for surgery to pin the bone. A quick search of the internet and I found some information that suggested all I needed was a cast. Long story short: I took myself to another surgeon who confirmed what I found. No surgery. End of story. Sometimes the Internet does make a difference!

In the case of a scaphoid fracture (the “crack”) that may or may not be displaced (the slight “shift”), there are many gray areas making a true diagnosis difficult. The scaphoid bone of the wrist is located on the thumbside of the hand just below the radius bone of the […]


What’s the standard treatment for a wrist fracture involving the scaphoid bone? I’m asking because that’s what my 27-year-old son has been diagnosed with after taking a bad fall. He’s too old for me (his mother) to tell him what to do but that doesn’t mean I don’t check out what’s happening for my own piece of mind.

The scaphoid bone of the wrist is located on the thumbside of the hand just below the radius bone of the forearm. Because the bones of the wrist are wedged together, any displacement or shift in the position of one bone changes the anatomic alignment of the wrist. Pain, loss […]


I am a lady weight-lifter with a serious problem. I tore the interosseous membrane of my left wrist and now the bones in there shift around. I never know when I’m going to have a pain free day for lifting. I can’t decide if I should go for a repair of the problem or just have the wrist fused. What do you advise?

Damage to the interosseous membrane of the wrist can result in a condition known as scapholunate instability. Without the tough soft tissue membrane to hold these two bones in place, the scapoid tips forward (flexes) and the lunate tips backwards (extension). The result can be a painful, unstable wrist — […]


I just saw the X-rays that explain why my wrist hurts so much. One bone (the scaphoid) goes one way while the bone next to it goes another way. All I know is the wrist hurts all the time. My job requires heavy loading so I keep aggravating it. I know I’m headed for surgery but what can they really do? Will the surgery hold up at work?

It sounds like you may have a case of scapholunate instability. This refers to a condition in the wrist where the ligament holding the two bones (scaphoid and lunate) together is torn or ruptured. The scaphoid tips one direction (flexes forward) and the lunate tips in the opposite direction (extends). […]


What does it mean when they say the new wrist replacements are “fourth generation.” I think I understand it but I thought I’d better ask to know for sure.

Total wrist arthroplasty (TWA) (wrist replacement) has been around for over 100 years. Over the last 40 years, the implants (prostheses) have been changed and improved through four generations of products. The result is a prosthetic that is longer lasting with fewer surgical and postoperative complications. When severe arthritis has […]


I can’t figure out what to do. I have pretty bad wrist arthritis in my good hand (right side). I’m only able to type with two fingers (hunt and peck method) but the worst is trying to do chores around the house or get dressed. I’m embarrassed to say I can’t even manage the bathroom very well. The surgeon I saw suggested either a wrist fusion or joint replacement. Which is better? I don’t know how to choose between them.

Your surgeon will likely help you make this decision but presented the two options for you to think about. We do have two patient guides that you might want to read: A Patient’s Guide to Artificial Joint Replacement of the Wrist and A Patient’s Guide to Wrist Fusion. After reading […]


Years ago, I tore the triangle ligament in my wrist and had to put my bowling activities on hold. I never did get back to bowling but I’m interested in trying it again. The problem is: my wrist clunks and clicks and I’m worried I might reinjure myself. Do you think it’s safe to give it a try anyway?

Painful clicking or clunking of the wrist is a sign that the triangular fibrocartilage complex or TFCC has been torn. The triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) suspends the ends of the radius and ulna (forearm) bones over the wrist. It is triangular in shape and made up of several ligaments and […]


I’m looking for any information I can find on the latest in surgical treatment of a torn triangular complex ligament for the wrist. I would like to be fully informed before I go back to the doctor for the results of the tests I had. I’ve already been told I’m likely going to need surgery.

There are several repair techniques for triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) tears of the wrist. Too much damage to the surrounding tissues and/or severe wrist instability may mean repair isn’t possible. In such cases, full reconstruction is required. But let’s take a look at repair procedures first. The outside edges of […]


Mother fell down during the holiday and broke her wrist (a Colles’ type fracture). I was amazed that the surgeon gave HER the choice of treatment: surgery or no-surgery. I guess I thought surgeons made all those decisions based on their training and experience. Why confuse an elderly widow with more on her plate than she can handle by asking her to decide what to do?

That is a very good question. Your mother’s situation represents a shift in thinking toward more patient participation in many different medical decisions (evaluation and treatment). Part of this has come about because of the Baby Boomers (adults born between 1946 and 1964) who have now reached senior citizen status. […]


I am at the hospital with my father who fell and broke his wrist (radial bone). We are furiously looking for any information that might help us. They are offering surgery or a quick fix now and recheck in one week to see if it is holding. What’s the best route? He’s 81-years-old but hale and hearty.

Everyday orthopedic surgeons must advise patients about treatment for the various problems presented. Often the question comes up with wrist fractures: can I get by without surgery? Two hand surgeons from two different medical facilities recently published an article that might offer you some helpful information. They used the case […]


I broke my wrist about six weeks ago. Fell off a ladder (dumb! I know better). I opted to go with closed reduction. They did put me to sleep and then put the bones back in place. I wore a special sling called a sugar-tong splint (I think that’s the right name). Now that I’m back to “normal” (splint off, back to work), I notice a bump along the top of my wrist. I don’t have full motion or strength yet. Will this all correct itself in time?

Splints are often used in the emergency department to provide support and limit motion when there is a fracture or soft tissue damage. The type of splint you mentioned is meant to provide support and comfort through stabilization of the fracture. A sugar-tong splint keeps the injury from causing further […]


Can you please explain to me what is a Darrach procedure for the wrist? I have a friend who is going on and on about this being the best thing that happened to her since sliced bread. Really? What kind of surgery is this anyway? I didn’t want to hear any more about it from her but I admit, now I’m curious enough to ask.

As you might suspect, the name Darrach really refers to the physician who first described and used this operation on someone’s wrist. Dr. Darrach actually published an article on his approach back in 1913. He used it on a patient who had a chronically dislocating wrist. It is basically the […]


I can see now how dragging my feet and refusing surgery for an unstable wrist joint is catching up with me. About 10 years ago, I fell off a ladder and tore the ligament between the scaphoid and lunate bones in my wrist. Before that injury, I couldn’t have told you the name of even one bone in my body but now I feel like a wrist expert. Unfortunately, the bones twisted inside the wrist. There was a lot of pain and “clunking” that I chose to ignore. Now the joint is destroyed. What happens from here? I mean, what are my options? Do I even have any options?

There are almost always options. Even doing nothing is an option. But hopefully we can offer you some information that will help you make some decisions. The first step, of course, is to see a hand surgeon who can evaluate you and offer you some guidance based on the specifics […]


How does a person decide when you need surgery? I have a torn ligament in my wrist (the one between the scaphoid bone and lunate bone — I’m learning a lot about anatomy). Can’t get a straight answer out of my doc. Says I can try going with a splint and give it time but surgery is always an option. What would you recommend?

To help answer your question, we turned to an extensive review of treatment for scapholunate injuries recently published by the Department of Hand and Upper Extremity Surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. In this article, orthopedic (hand) surgeons provide an extensive, detailed, and very thorough […]