A fracture causes the bones of the hand or wrist to break. This can cause pain, inflammation, and decreased use. Fractures can be simple while others are unstable and the bone fragments can dislodge or shift. Fractures can occur in the bone shaft or on the joint surface. Comminuted fractures where the bone is shattered into several pieces typically occur because of a high energy force and are usually unstable. A compound fracture occurs when a bone fragment cuts through the skin. Wrist fractures usually occur in the radius. This is known as a distal radius fracture, though any of the bones in the wrist can be affected.
Hand fractures frequently develop because of a heavy item landing on it or an impact from an accident. A wrist fracture is usually the result of an injury such as falling down onto an extended hand. Serious trauma including auto accidents, motorcycle accidents, or falls from a ladder cause more severe injuries. Weakened bones, like those which occur with osteoporosis, tend to break more easily.
When there is a fracture, it can be hard to move or use the hand and wrist. This is not always the case, in some instances the hand can still be moved. Inflammation or comminuted fractures can make the hand or wrist look deformed. Pain right around the break and along with finger movement is frequently observed. For some break, the fingers may tingle or feel numb at the tips. Since there is a very close relationship between the bones and ligaments and tendons, the hand can be stiff and weak following a fracture and even when it heals. Fractures which damage the joint surfaces can lead to the development of early arthritis in the affected joints.