Common Types of Wrist Fractures and Treatments

When you fall, you often put your hands out to help take the brunt of the force and protect yourself from injuring your face or other body parts. Unfortunately, this can cause a lot of damage to your arms and joints. One thing that may happen is a fractured wrist. This painful condition comes in many forms, and if you’re experiencing wrist pain, you may wonder if you’ve suffered a wrist break or fracture. Let’s go over the most common types of wrist fractures and treatments to help you understand your condition and what to do about it.

Most Common Types of Wrist Fracture

The wrist comprises two forearm bones: the radius and the ulna. If one of these bones fractures, you’ll most likely notice one or more of the following:

With any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention from a qualified physician who understands the delicate bones in your arms and wrists. These are the two most common types of wrist fractures to be aware of:

Distal Radius Fractures

A break near the distal end of the radius bone, which is the larger of the two forearm bones that are closer to the hand, is called a distal radius fracture. These fractures make up most of the wrist fractures that occur. Depending on whether it’s a compound, simple, or other type of fracture, a distal radius fracture can be difficult to treat. If the bone breaks through the skin, the difficulty of treatment increases.

Scaphoid Fractures

Your wrist joint actually comprises eight bones on the radial side of the wrist, and the scaphoid bone is just under your thumb. If you use your hands to break your fall and most of your weight goes to your thumb, you risk suffering a scaphoid fracture. This condition can also happen from playing sports or being involved in another type of accident that results in extreme trauma to your hands or wrists. The symptoms of a scaphoid fracture are similar to those of a sprained wrist, making this condition hard to diagnose.

Other Types of Wrist Fractures

While distal radius and scaphoid fractures are the most common types of wrist fractures, there are a few others you should know about, many of which may require surgery to treat. These wrist fractures include:

Barton Fracture

If you have a Barton wrist fracture, it can be excruciatingly painful. These types of fractures happen when you not only have a distal radius fracture but also a dislocation in the radiocarpal, or wrist joint. This type of wrist fracture is less common but happens from extreme force or trauma to the bone and joint.

Radial Styloid Fracture

You have a large bulge at the end of your radius bone near your thumb. If this bone fractures, it’s called a radial styloid fracture. This type of fracture is also sometimes called a chauffeur’s fracture. It’s caused by a direct impact to the radius bone, which is often the result of a hard fall.

Ulnar Styloid Fracture

The ulna bone in your wrist also has a bulge on the end of it. This bulge is visible on the outside of the wrist. If this bulge suffers a blow, it can fracture. This type of wrist fracture is called an ulnar styloid fracture. It occurs from a fall but can happen if something hits the bone with a lot of force as well.

Diagnosing Wrist Fractures

Depending on the type of wrist fracture, you may or may not know you have a broken bone. Because a scaphoid fracture is subtle and can have symptoms that resemble a sprain, you may attempt to treat your condition at home with rest and ice or by wrapping it with a bandage and applying compression. Most fractures require X-rays to diagnose. Using an X-ray, an orthopedic surgeon can determine the exact type of fracture and where the break is located. This allows them to treat the fracture properly to ensure it heals so you can use it as normal.

Treating Wrist Fractures

The treatment for your wrist fracture will depend on several factors, including how bad the fracture is, the type of fracture, and the bone that has the fracture. A doctor can treat your wrist fracture surgically or nonsurgically. Here’s what to expect from each treatment method:


After receiving a wrist X-ray, your doctor will determine whether you have bone fragmentation, instability, or arthritis, all of which may require surgery. Through a surgical procedure, the doctor can reduce stress on the fractured bone and restore the blood supply to ensure proper healing. In some cases, the fracture may require pinning or open reduction and internal fixation. Immobilization of the arm and wrist will probably follow the surgical procedure.


If your fracture doesn’t require surgery, there are nonsurgical methods that can help the bone heal properly. Nondislocated fractures need to be immobilized. Any type of chipped or body fracture will require immobilization for three weeks. Many types of fractures that occur in the joint bones require immobilization for up to six weeks, and you may have to wear a cast.

Complications With Wrist Fractures

Sometimes, a wrist fracture can be difficult to diagnose. However, if left untreated for too long, complications can arise. This happens because the bone will start to heal improperly, which can cause a lack of blood supply to the damaged bone. It can also result in permanent deformity or chronic pain in the area that suffered the injury. These aren’t the only complications, so it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible if you believe you have a problem with your wrist.

If you’re looking for an exceptional and caring orthopedic surgeon in the Dallas, Southlake, Frisco, Texas, areas, then contact The Hand and Wrist Institute. Dr. Knight has over 25 years of experience treating patients with wrist fractures and other hand and wrist injuries. He’s the area’s premiere orthopedic surgeon, and he’s ready to help you heal.

Image by Tom Claes is licensed with Unsplash License

Dr. John Knight
Dr. John Knight

Dr. Knight is a renowned hand, wrist and upper extremity surgeon with over 25 years of experience. Dr. Knight is a Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon and Fellowship trained. Dr Knight has appeared on CNN, The Doctors TV, Good Morning America, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Forbes, The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, Oxygen network and more.