Recovering from a Wrist Fracture

This page is designed to allow you to gauge how you are doing after having a wrist fracture. If you have any particular worries, please contact us via the form at the top of the page.

Week 1
Your hand may feel swollen and puffy. Your fingers may feel very stiff and sore to move. In the first week following your injury, you should try to maintain normal shoulder and elbow movement, and try to recover finger and thumb movement. Keep your arm elevated above shoulder height to minimise swelling. This is easily achieved if you are lying on a sofa with the arm up on pillows, but difficult to achieve if you are upright.

Shoulder and Elbow Exercises

Put your arm behind your back and reach up your back as far as you can.

Lift your arm out to the side to around 90°. Turn your palm up to face the ceiling and down to face the floor.

Straighten your elbow out fully, then bend it up and touch your shoulder with your fingers – or as near to your shoulder as you can.

Straighten your fingers out fully and stretch them out using your other hand as much as you can. 

Bring your fingers down into a fist, ensuring that all the joints move and not just the joints of the fingers. Push them with the other hand if necessary.

Bring your fingers into a position where the base joints remain extended and the finger joints flexed. Secondly, reverse this position so that the base joints are flexed and the finger joints extended.

Spread your fingers apart and pull them together.

Week 2
By the start of week 2 you should be finding the above exercises much easier. It is vital this week that you start to achieve a full range of movement in the fingers and in the shoulder and elbow.

Keep on with these exercises and add in the following: 

Practice manipulating small beads or coins – picking them up and putting them down. Use your index finger and thumb, then middle finger, then ring and finally little finger to do this.

Get hold of some putty and practice gently squeezing the putty to exercise the forearm muscles.

Weeks 3-4
By this stage you should be able to do all the above exercises easily. You should start to use your hand in the plaster or splint to do things like tie laces, buttons, lift a small glass etc. Getting the hand to work as part of you and not like an independent part is really important. The brain has a tendency to isolate injured parts, and therefore it always feels more comfortable to rest the injured part. Although this feels better, it is not good for you, and it takes some effort to start to use the hand. 

Weeks 4-6
By now, your hand should feel much better. The wrist pain will be settling and hand moving fairly normally. You can increase the amount of activity you are doing with the hand and arm. Getting back to your normal exercise level is now important. There are no restrictions on walking or running, although the hand can swell up if you do a lot quickly. If the hand swells up, elevate the hand and use some ice to cool the hand, and keep it moving.

Week 6 onwards
From week 6, there are no particular restrictions, but you should use common sense and listen to your body when you use the hand. Generally, increased pain and swelling may mean you are overdoing it! No pain and you might want to push things a little harder.

Recovery time from injury varies enormously from patient to patient. If you have any worries or concerns, contact us via the toolbar link at the top of this page.

© Fife Hand Service 2021

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