Possible Wrist Fracture

You are very sore over a bone in your wrist called the navicular, or scaphoid, bone. This could be a sign of a hairline fracture, or break. But no fracture was seen on the X-ray. So a splint or cast will be applied until repeat X-rays are taken in about 1 to 2 weeks or other tests are done. If you have a hairline fracture, it will often show up on the second X-ray. Then you will have to keep wearing a cast for about 6 to 20 weeks, depending on the location of the fracture. Sometimes other tests such as an MRI are needed. If no fracture is seen on the second X-ray or other tests, this means you may only have a wrist sprain. The splint or cast can then often be removed.

Home care

  • Keep your arm raised to reduce pain and swelling. When sitting or lying down, raise your arm above the level of your heart. You can do this by placing your arm on a pillow that rests on your chest or on a pillow at your side. This is most important during the first 48 hours after injury.

  • Place an ice pack over the injured area for no more than 15 to 20 minutes. Do this every 1 to 2 hours for the first 24 to 48 hours. To make an ice pack, put ice cubes in a plastic bag that seals at the top. Wrap the bag in a clean, thin towel or cloth. Never put ice or an ice pack directly on the skin. As the ice melts, be careful that the cast or splint doesn’t get wet. You can place the ice pack inside the sling and directly over the splint or cast. Keep using ice packs as needed to ease pain and swelling.

  • Keep the cast or splint completely dry at all times. Bathe with your cast or splint out of the water. Protect it with 2 large plastic bags. Place 1 bag around the other. Tape each bag with duct tape at the top end or use rubber bands. If a fiberglass cast or splint gets wet, you can dry it with a hair dryer on a cool setting.

  • You may use over-the-counter pain medicine to control pain, unless another pain medicine was prescribed. If you have chronic liver or kidney disease, ever had a stomach ulcer or gastrointestinal bleeding, or take a blood thinner, talk with your provider before using these medicines.

  • If you smoke, get help to quit. Tobacco use can interfere with the healing of this fracture. It can also increase the risk of a complication needing surgery.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider in 1 week, or as advised. This is to be sure the bone is healing correctly.

If X-rays were taken, you will be told of any new findings that may affect your care.

When to get medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • The plaster cast or splint becomes wet or soft

  • The plaster cast or splint becomes loose

  • The fiberglass cast or splint remains wet for more than 24 hours

  • Increased tightness or pain occurs under the cast or splint

  • Fingers become swollen, cold, blue, numb, or tingly

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