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Bone fracture: Brian’s experience with breaking a wrist

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Patient experience: bone fracture

My experience: Breaking a wrist, with a twist

In this experience we speak to Brian, a hard-working exec who learnt how to type with his left hand – the hard way, after fracturing his wrist at the office Christmas ‘do’. He says there are definitely a few tips he could pass on to anyone unfortunate enough to break their wrist, or perhaps anyone who sees a friend take a fall and hit the ground like the Hindenburg.

If this boat’s a-rockin’

On the day of his Chrissie party, Brian hopped a boat to Rottnest (WA) for a day of fun in the sun, with a little snorkelling on the side. It would have been perfect, but a side-wave literally rocked the boat and sent Brian hurtling toward the deck.

A common reaction for anyone hitting the ground is to put out a hand to break the fall. Well, Brian did break his fall – and his wrist.

“When I first fell I could actually still move it, so I thought that it was just badly sprained. It happened at 10am but we didn’t get back until the evening, so I just had it wrapped in ice and kept it elevated during the day,” Brian says.

“It wasn’t so bad.”

… Until the morning after. Brian had slept on his fractured wrist, not knowing how badly he had hurt it.

“That got me into trouble with the emergency staff. They said that was no good because by the time I woke up it had swollen very badly, into a big balloon.

“So I would recommend seeking medical assistance immediately – don’t wait.”

Brian advises anyone who takes a tumble to get checked out, because when it comes to breaking a bone, there are really no bones about it.

The one ring to rule them all

Patient experience: bone fractureThe emergency staff at hospital said the first thing to do was to remove Brian’s ring from his ever-swelling finger.

“They couldn’t remove it, so they had to cut it off,” Brian says.

“It was actually cutting off the circulation, which was most upsetting.

“If the ring doesn’t come off, you can lose a finger.”

Which is why Brian’s second tip is so important: if you do cop a blow to the hand, always ensure your remove your rings in case swelling occurs.

X-ray vision

After a couple of painkillers, Brian had to get some x-rays done to get a good gander at the extent of the damage.

“To do the x-rays, they have to manoeuvre the wrist, which was just excruciating – you can actually feel the bone rubbing,” Brian says.

“But they found the fracture then put it in a half-cast.  The half-cast was good because I could take it off to shower.

“There would be aching and even though I was trying not to hit it on anything, I would constantly knock it without thinking. Even small things, like opening drawers or doors, were difficult. Of course, when you’re trying not to knock something, you always end up knocking it.

“I’m right-handed too, so I had to write and type only with my left hand.”

Brian had the cast on his wrist for about one month, and then it was time to go back to his GP to have a look at how he was healing.

Broken wrist, two olives and a twist

Patient experience: bone fracture“When I went back to my GP to get the cast off, I learnt another huge lesson; always get them to take the x-rays before they manoeuvre your hand!” Brian says.

“The GP tried to move my hand and I nearly collapsed from the pain. He then x-rayed it and found a second fracture that they didn’t pick up the first time.

“This fracture was going up my arm and they just didn’t see it.”

Brian says it took months and months to heal.

Could you give me a hand?

“I was referred to a specialist who advised me to stop wearing the cast to promote more movement of my hand.”

Brian’s specialist recommended this because tendons need to be used, otherwise they can shrink away. Brian says that by the end, he could barely move his fingers.

At this point, Brian really needed a hand to get his digits back in business. So he went to see a physiotherapist, who showed him specific exercises that would strengthen his fingers.

However, the physio gave Brian a bleak outlook and told him he would only recover about half of his former ability.

High hopes for handsome hands

Patient experience: bone fractureBut Brian says he’s stubborn.

“I was determined to get back as much movement as possible,” he says.

“I did the exercises diligently for a year and actually got nearly full mobility. I still sometimes get aches and pains in cold weather or if I overdo some actions, but all in all, it’s totally healed.”

Brian proves that a broken wrist doesn’t put you out for the count. With a lot of determination and a little elbow grease, you too can be as good as new.


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Posted On: 13 October, 2010
Modified On: 22 April, 2015


Created by: myVMC