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Recovering From Two Broken Wrists: My Story

My name is Ricardo, and I am from Portugal. In 2007, I broke both wrists after falling from a building. This is my story.

Here's how I recovered from two broken wrists.

Here's how I recovered from two broken wrists.

2007: An Accident That Led to Two Broken Wrists

I wrote this article because I broke both my wrists in a terrible accident in 2007 and found very little information online about injuries like mine. I decided to write about what happened to me to help others in my situation. I hope you find this useful.

Below you'll be able to read more about my story, but first, some information on the healing time of wrist fractures.

Broken Wrist Recovery Time

Keep in mind that there are many different kinds of wrist fractures, so this is only a very rough guide. Your experience may differ significantly.

 KidsAdults

Time for bone to fully mend

3 - 10 weeks, depending on severity of fracture

8 weeks or longer

Length of time in cast

For a half-cast, 3 - 4 weeks; for a full cast, 6 - 10 weeks

6 - 8 weeks, depending on fracture

Stiffness and immobility after removal

Joint will be stiff 2 - 3 weeks after cast is removed

Depending on the case, pain and stiffness will persist for several months and possibly years

Physical therapy?

Usually not needed

Likely needed, depending on the fracture

How Long Will Healing Take?

If you're reading this article, you probably want to know how long it takes for a broken wrist to heal.

Generally, recovery for adults takes about six to eight weeks (shorter for children and longer for the elderly or for more severe fractures).1 Everyone's situation is different. My recovery took longer than most (obviously) due to the severity of my injury (you can read about my story down below).

Recovery can mean different things, however. Though the bones may be healed at eight weeks, full recovery could be a much longer and more difficult process, especially for adults and older adults. You should expect (depending on the severity of your injury) a huge reduction in mobility and a lot of stiffness. You will have to work hard in order to regain all of the use of your hand and wrist, but don't give up! It will be worth it. See the comments section to learn about other people's experiences and ask your own questions.

Here are some more details:

  • The plaster cast will stay on until the bone has healed, but the exact healing time length depends on the fracture type, whether it has damaged the surrounding tissues and the patient's age.
  • A young child who broke his or her wrist may need to wear a cast or removable splint for just two to three weeks. For older people or with more complicated fractures, a wrist injury can take a lot longer to get back to normal, and stiffness is extremely common.
  • Be sure to follow instructions on how to take care of your cast. Most importantly, don't get it wet. The orthopedic doctors will decide when you can take the cast off and when you can return to normal activities or work.
  • Your arm is often stiff and weak after being in a cast. Physiotherapy can be useful to help build up strength in the arm muscles and restore full movement, as in my case. However, this is rarely needed for children (I guess I'm not a kid anymore!)
  • There's a higher chance of re-breaking or cracking the bone once the plaster is removed, especially in children, so kids should avoid trampolines, bouncy castles, soft play areas, and contact sports for a further four to six weeks to be safe.2
  • Also, you shouldn't drive in a cast. Talk to your doctor about when you can drive again.3
When will you get back to doing the things that you love (like playing piano)?

When will you get back to doing the things that you love (like playing piano)?

When I Can Resume Normal Activities?

Everyone wants to know when and if they can return to their former activities after suffering from a broken wrist. This is a great question which seems simple but actually has a complex answer.

Most patients do return to all of their former activities, but what happens in your case depends on the nature of your injury, the kind of treatment you and your doctors decide on, and how your body responds to the treatment.

You’ll need to discuss your case with your doctor for specifics, but in general most of the following are true:4

  • Most patients have their cast taken off within six to eight weeks.
  • If recommended by the doctor, patients will start physiotherapy within a few days or weeks after surgery, or right after the last cast is taken off.
  • Most patients will be able to resume light activities such as swimming or working out the lower body within a month or two after the cast is taken off, or after surgery.
  • Most patients can resume vigorous physical activities, such as skiing or football, between three and six months after the injury.
  • Almost all patients will have some stiffness in their wrist, which will generally diminish in the month or two after the cast is taken off or after surgery. Wrist flexibility will continue to improve for at least two years (this is for adults).
  • You should expect your recovery to take at least a year, and most will still feel some pain during vigorous activities for about that long. You should also expect residual stiffness or aches for two years or possibly permanently, especially for high impact injuries (such as motorcycle crashes), or if you are over 50 or have some osteoarthritis.
  • The good news is that the stiffness is usually minor and may not affect the overall function of the arm. Remember that these are general guidelines and may not apply to you and your fracture. Ask your doctor for specifics in your case.

Timeline of Surgeries and Recovery After I Broke My Wrists

WhenWhat HappenedHow My Wrists Felt

Day of the accident

Emergency surgery: Doctors fixed both wrists with titanium plates and screws and put an external fixation on right wrist that was attached to both the radius and forefinger metacarpal bones by four screws, two in each bone

Due to morphine, I have no memory of pain during the first week. It was only after returning to Portugal (and having the morphine stopped) that the pain showed up, and what a show it was :/. I had to take some painkillers like algimate and tramadol but soon realized they had serious side effects and haven't taken any chemical drugs since.

Two months after accident

External fixation was removed and I started daily physiotherapy. Started to see good results with physiotherapy

For me, physiotherapy was the most painful part of the process. But every session I knew what was going to happen, and I went anyway. You can call me masochist but I learned to love and embrace the pain resulting from all the hard work.

Two months and one week after accident

Got a spike removed because it was starting to poke through skin

I'm not sure if what I felt when they took the metal pin out was really pain. Perhaps I can call it mental pain because it felt strange to watch the guy pulling a metal spike from my skin like a mechanic working on some vehicle. It was just a strange feeling.

Seven months after accident

Surgery to remove titanium plates from both wrists and get a new one on my right wrist to keep it from moving incorrectly; cut distal end from right cubitus bone to allow wrist to rotate

It's not easy to explain what went through my head during this time — perhaps only those who have gone through it can understand. There are too many things to even start counting.

Two years and three months after accident

Surgery to add two titanium plates to left wrist to correct left hand's position, did not improve mobility

At this time I was much more adapted to my new reality and my thoughts about it were much more positive forward-looking. My pain was also under control.

Four years after accident

Able to read, write, and ride my bike almost like I could before the accident

What can I say!? I guess I was and am a good patient. I tried to study myself like I never did before and I now know and understand myself much better.

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Read More From Patientslounge

My Experience With Broken Wrists and Surgery

In July 2007, I was on a mountain biking trip in the French Alps and fell from the balcony of the second floor of a building. Unfortunately it wasn’t as exciting as a bike crash, and no, I didn't try to kill myself (in case you were wondering).

After I fell, I had to get up all by myself and go upstairs to go back to the second floor where my friends were. I still don’t know where I found the strength to search for my friends and get their help. I guess my love for life certainly helped!

When I finally reached my friends, they called the paramedics and I was taken to the hospital right away. Well . . . almost right away. We actually had to stop twice to get some money from an ATM since the ambulance would only take me to the hospital after I paid for the service.

Due to the severity of the fractures, I had to be operated on as soon as I got to the hospital.

During this surgery (the first of three), doctors fixed both my wrists with titanium plates and screws, and they also put an external fixation on my right wrist. This external equipment was attached to both the radius and forefinger metacarpal bones by four screws, two in each bone.

Back in Portugal (where I’m from), the external fixation was removed two months after the operation. They took it out without any anesthesia which made it an unforgettable moment for me (as in it was extremely painful).

At this point, I started daily physiotherapy sessions and immediately began to see good results.

One week later, I went to hospital again. This time it was to have a little spike that the doctor had put in removed because it was starting to push through my skin. I also had no anesthetic this time and it was pretty painful, but by now I was learning how to enjoy it.

X-rays After the First Surgery

My left wrist (view from below) with the titanium plate and screws inserted during surgery to hold the bones in the proper position

My left wrist (view from below) with the titanium plate and screws inserted during surgery to hold the bones in the proper position

My left wrist (lateral view)

My left wrist (lateral view)

My right wrist (view from below) with the titanium plate, screws and external fixation inserted during surgery to hold the bones in the proper position

My right wrist (view from below) with the titanium plate, screws and external fixation inserted during surgery to hold the bones in the proper position

My right wrist (lateral view)

My right wrist (lateral view)

That which does not kill us makes us stronger.

— Friedrich Nietzsche

Just after the last surgery (October 2009)

Just after the last surgery (October 2009)

Almost seven months after the accident, I had to be operated on yet again to remove the titanium plates from both wrists and get a new one on my right wrist to keep it from moving incorrectly. In order to allow the right hand to rotate, they also cut the distal end from my right cubitus bone. This was my third surgery. Not fun!

Even though I was much better, I still needed at least one more operation to have my left wrist put back in place. That surgery, unfortunately, could only happen when I got some significant time off work.

Yes, that’s right—I’d be spending my next vacation in the hospital.

In October 2009, I went through that surgery, which I hoped to be my last, and my surgeon believed that my left wrist would be able to regain its mobility after correcting its position.

This time I only had local anesthesia which allowed a much faster recovery, and I started moving my fingers by the end of the day. It also allowed me to watch the entire process without any pain. However, it did take more than two hours and I almost fell asleep during the surgery . . .

The operation team decided to add two titanium plates to my wrist and put it back into its natural position. This by itself made a big difference and I could finally grab my bicycle's handlebars.

The bad news is that it did not improve my wrist mobility, but I had been expecting this. In the last appointment before the surgery, I even suggested to my doctor that he completely secure my wrist like he’d done with my right one, but he told me there was a chance of improvement with the left one.

Unfortunately, I still don´t have good quality digitalizations of the X-rays because they never gave me the original ones. The pictures below were digitized from a paper copy, so I apologize for the poor quality.

Four years after the accident, I can work, write, ride my bike, and do normal, everyday tasks.

If I’m being completely honest, however, I can’t do everything I did before. On the other hand, now that I’ve had to re-learn some things, I do them even better.

X-ray From Right Wrist After the Last Surgery

They also remove (cut) the distal end from the cubitus bone to allow hand rotation

They also remove (cut) the distal end from the cubitus bone to allow hand rotation

broken-wrists

After breaking my wrist, I searched for help and information online from people who’d had similar experiences but found very few people sharing their broken wrist stories.

I hope this article helps other people going through the same kind of injury. Writing it down and sharing it with everybody certainly helped me debrief the experience.

The house where I was lodged in Les Gets, French Alps. I fell from the closed door on the second floor balcony.

The house where I was lodged in Les Gets, French Alps. I fell from the closed door on the second floor balcony.

Stay Strong!

I hope this helped you as you're recovering from a broken wrist. It does get better. Feel free to leave some of your experiences and advice in the comments section.

More Information on Wrist Fractures

The wrist is one of the most commonly broken bones — in the United States, one out of every ten bones is a broken wrist.4

Seventy-five percent of wrist injuries are fractures of the distal radius and ulna. Distal means the end of the bone closest to the wrist. The eight carpal bones (the bones between the arm bone and the hand) are injured less frequently.

In general, there are four main kinds of fractures which are:5

  • Simple or closed fractures: an easily treated break with little damage to the surrounding tissue.
  • Compound or open fractures: a complicated break that also damages the surrounding skin.
  • Comminuted: a comminuted fracture means the bone has broken into several pieces. Note: This is the kind of fracture that I had.
  • Greenstick: this type is usually most common in children. Greenstick is a type of fracture where the bone is bent but not broken.

Hairline fractures are minor cracks to the bone and only show up on an X-ray. An impacted fracture is when the ends of bones are driven into one another.

Wrist fractures are most common in children and young adults, especially if they're involved in risk-taking activities. They also become common as people get older, when we are more likely to fall or suffer from osteoporosis, which increases the likelihood of breaking a bone.

It’s also true that this kind of fracture can sometimes save lives. If I had landed in any other way when I fell, I probably would have broken my neck. In some ways, my wrists were the parachute that softened the fall, though at a fairly big cost!

This is an x-ray from a typical distal radius fracture

This is an x-ray from a typical distal radius fracture

Symptoms

Usually you know if you've broken your arm or wrist bone because it will be extremely painful.1

If it's a clean break, you may have heard a snap or a grinding noise during the accident. The bone can break in several different ways, including straight across, diagonally, or in a spiral pattern. In severe cases, the bone may break into many pieces (comminuted), stick out at an angle, or poke through the skin (open or compound fracture).

Some things to look for if you think you may have broken your wrist are:

  • Swelling or tenderness around the injured area
  • Bleeding if the bone has damaged the tissue and skin
  • Pain, especially when flexing the wrist
  • Bruising
  • Your wrist looks bent or crooked
  • Your wrist, arm, or hand is numb
  • Your fingers are pale

Presence of these symptoms is not a guarantee that there’s a fracture. A sprained wrist can feel similarly and an X-ray is the only way to find out what happened.

If you’ve suffered an injury to your arm or wrist that has lasting pain, you should go to a doctor to have X-rays taken. It might only be a sprain, but it’s better to be safe than to risk more injury.

What to Do

If you or someone in your care has broken their wrist, here are some guidelines to follow:6

  1. Don't eat or drink anything if you think you've broken your wrist, as you may need a general anaesthetic (be put to sleep) to allow doctors to realign the bone. This process can be very painful to do so while you're awake.
  2. A sling will help stabilise the arm while you're on the way to the hospital. The sling should go under the arm and then around the neck. Don’t try to straighten your wrist.
  3. Apply an ice pack to the injured area (try a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel). Ice can help reduce pain and swelling.
  4. If the injury is to a child, try to find someone to drive and someone else to support and comfort the child.

What to Expect From Treatment

A broken arm or wrist treatment differs depending on how bad the injury is. Here's what will happen as you go through the process:6

  • A doctor will give you painkillers and then fix a splint to the arm to secure it in position and prevent further damage.
  • An X-ray will be taken of the arm to see what kind of fracture it is. Even hairline fractures should show faintly on X-ray.
  • A simple fracture where the bone remains aligned can be treated by applying a plaster cast. This holds the broken ends together so they can heal. You should be provided with painkillers to take home and information on how to look after your cast, and you’ll probably make an appointment to attend a fracture clinic so specialist orthopaedic doctors can take over the care of your fracture.
  • With more severe arm or wrist fractures, the bones can become misaligned (displaced). If the bone is not realigned (reduced), the bones will not heal well. Doctors can use a technique called 'closed reduction' to pull the bones back into position.
  • Local or regional anesthetic will be used to numb the arm (this is rarely used in children), or you will be put to sleep using a general anaesthetic. If doctors are happy with the bones' new position, you may be treated with a plaster cast and regular follow-up appointments and X-rays.
  • Certain fractures are best treated with surgery to realign and fix the broken bones (as in my case because it was so severe). This includes displaced fractures, fractures involving a joint, and open fractures. Surgeons can fix bones with wires, plates, screws, or rods. This is called open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF). Any metalwork is usually not removed unless it becomes a problem.
  • In rare cases (like mine) an external frame is used to hold the broken bones, known as an external fixator.
  • After most surgeries, a plaster cast is applied to protect the wrist. A sling may also be provided for comfort. If you have surgery, you will usually be able to go home within a day or two. You might need a second cast if the first one gets too loose after the swelling goes away.
  • You'll likely get regular X-rays to make sure your wrist is healing normally

Helping a Broken Wrist Heal

Though only time will let your bone heal fully, there are some things you can do to help ease the pain and decrease healing time.1, 6

  • Elevate your wrist above the level of your heart by putting it on a pillow or on some other surface for the first few days to help ease pain and swelling.
  • Ice your wrist for 15-20 minutes about two or three times a day for two to three days. Make sure you keep your cast or splint dry.
  • Take OTC painkillers. Ask your doctor about the ones that are the safest for you to take — some of them have side effects with overuse.
  • Ask your doctor about stretching or strengthening exercises for your hands.
  • Avoid putting weight or strain on your arm — you don't have to stop moving it completely, but you should avoid carrying heavy things and driving.
  • If you notice anything unusual about your wrist — strange sensations, odd hand color, signs of infection, problems with your cast, numbness in your fingers, or severe or continuous pain, you should speak with your doctor.

I wish you a speedy recovery!

Sources Used

  1. Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian. "Colles' Fracture (Distal Radius Fracture or Broken Wrist)" January 26, 2017. WebMD. Accessed May 29, 2017.
  2. Grewal, Preeti RN, MN, APN and William Cole MBBS, MSc, PhD, FRACS, FRCSC. "Wrist Fracture." November 10, 2009. Accessed May 29, 2017.
  3. Hoffman, Jan. "When Is It Safe to Drive After Breaking a Bone?" December 3, 2013. NYTimes Well Blog. Accessed May 29, 2017.
  4. "Distal Radius Fractures (Broken Wrist)" March 2013. American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Accessed May 29, 2017.
  5. "Fractures (Broken Bones)" October 2012. American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Accessed May 29, 2017.
  6. "Broken Arm or Wrist." January 25, 2017. National Health Service UK. Accessed May 29, 2017.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Comments

Ricardo Nunes (author) from Portugal on April 10, 2020:

Hi Sarah, thanks for sharing your experience with us. Glad to know you're getting close to full recovery, keep your spirit vibrating high! :)

Sarah R on April 09, 2020:

I am one of the unfortunate souls who has broken both wrists at the same time. I am also a massage therapist. Double whammy. My breaks occurred during a freak accident at my gym. One of my favorite places! Ugh. Anyway, I knew immediately that I had broken or at least severely damaged my wrists. It could have been a lot worse though, so I’m grateful I didn’t break my neck or back. I had a 185# barbell roll out of my hands in the wrong direction. Ouch.

I think I’m fortunate because although I had to have both my radius and ulna set and casted, I did not need to have surgery. I am now on week 6 of recovery with braces only and I’ve been working on flexibility and ROM on my own (thanks Covid 19)

It has been a trying experience but I knew it was what is was and there was nothing I could do but try to stay positive. I can’t wait to get back to Olympic weight lifting and massage therapy! It’s what I love.

JJVD on November 26, 2018:

It took over a year to fully recover. The doctors told me one year, but I obtained more flexibility even after 12 months. I had quite a bit of nerve damage in my thumb and forefinger in my left hand, and I’ve recovered about 85% of the sensation after 15 months. I’ve recovered about 90% of the flexibility I had before the accident. I still have pain when I place a lot of pressure on my wrists, but I can easily do things like push ups. I try and stretch them every morning and they often make cracking sounds. One long-term effect is that I have slightly less sensitivity in terms of fine motor skills. I’m a little slow and awkward at tasks like tying knots and picking up small things like a crumb. I also have a hard time opening certain packaging (couldn’t they make these things a little easier!) I’m not sure if these issues will last forever, but I’m pretty used to them.

Whatever your condition, I would offer a few pieces of advice:

Be your own advocate for your care from the very beginning, and if you can, have someone else present for meetings with doctors. It’s easy to forget or misinterpret what they say when you’re in pain. It’s your body and you know it best. You can also record these meetings (I do that using voice memos on an iPhone). These recordings are useful in keeping track of what is happening. Be kind but be assertive when things are still not up to your expectations.

Organize a team to help you with basic tasks during the first four-six weeks. Get this set up as soon and as far in advance as you can. You can always cancel but the last thing you want is to be stuck with the inability to do something crucial for your recovery. I was amazed by how many people wanted to help (and, frankly, surprised by a few friends who didn’t, but ce la vie). Social media was useful here (a person with both arms in slings makes quite a dramatic photo). I caught up with a lot of friends and family as they were feeding me! I had to get used to other people showering me, but I’m not very modest so this was ok for me, but try and figure out what works for you. If you have a primary caregiver helping you out, make sure they get a break, too! It’s hard on them as well.

Early on, organize your living and working spaces so that there are no obstacles that might cause you to fall again. You can’t brace your fall with a broken wrist! Learn how to move carefully and intentionally so that you avoid obstacles. Don’t rush as you move around.

If it’s hot outside, try and find a cool space or use air conditioning in those first weeks and after your surgery. You don’t want to be swelling up even more from the heat. Keep those wrists elevated and keep this fingers moving!

Stay active. This helped me so much. Figure out ways to move the rest of your body and keep the blood flowing. Make sure you’re moving your shoulders so that you don’t get “frozen shoulder.” Even take little walks around the house if you can. I found this reduced pain, hastened my recovery, and allowed me to use over-the-counter pain relievers and medical marijuana rather than getting stuck with oxy-type drugs, which also had the effect of making me want to totally veg out, which caused me to feel worse and want more pain relievers.

Finally, just keep in mind that the mental effects can be as hard to deal with as the physical effects. Long after I looked “fine” on the outside and could perform all major tasks again, I still had pain and felt emotionally pretty lousy. I had constant fears of falling and could easily get distracted by these thoughts. Being incapacitated effected my physical and emotional confidence and I had to take care to build it back. Now that I’ve gotten through that phase, I see how normal that was and I’m being less hard on myself. If you can, try and talk to others who have recovered from accidents. It’s ok to not feel great about what happened to you. But, also be kind to yourself for what you’ve been through. Meditation, patience, and persistence were useful tools. You can learn a lot from a setback. Once you feel better, it can also feel great to extend a hand to someone else in need and return the favor.

Best of luck everyone! Thank you for this forum and for your helpful advice!

JJVD on November 26, 2018:

I am one of the unusual people who broke both of my wrists at once. In May 2017, I had an accident at my gym and was slammed to the ground with great force. My wrists broke my fall or I may have been much worse — broken my ribs or even my neck. Despite this “good fortune,” the breaks were quite bad (my left wrist was nearly shattered) I was not prepared to have both arms incapacitated for months.

I live in New York City and luckily, the emergency team showed up within ten minutes. It was a Sunday night and the hospital was busy and a bit understaffed. I had my partner with me the whole time, so we were able to manage my care together as we waited many hours even for X-rays. I tried to limit the pain meds they gave me so that I could still be alert enough to know what was going on. We tried to advocate for my care from the very beginning and be friendly but firm with the staff. I was a bit of a curiosity as it’s very unusual for someone to break both wrists at once.

The radiologist told me right away that I would need surgery, but the attending doctors were less sure. Once they received my XRays, the next step was to reset the bones. My hands were hanging at odd angles off my body. They had splints on them but I could see my fingers — I had an urge to keep my fingers moving, and I was told this was a good thing.

After waiting about 6 hours, they assembled a team of 4 physicians to reset the bones — two to hold my arms back, and two to pull my hands in place. At one point the physicians were joking with one another about the process, as if I wasn’t there, and I ask them politely not to do so. I’m an artist working in painting and performance, so my hands are my tools, something I told them and would also remind my surgeons multiple times in preparation for the surgery. The team tried to use propophyl to sedate me, but I am a tall, muscular guy and this didn’t seem to be strong enough. One physician decided to use ketamine, which worked well and may have contributed to me feeling rather euphoric for a few days. I have very little memory of them re-setting my bones, but my partner tells me my screaming could be heard all over the hospital. They sent me home in two partial casts/ace wraps from elbow to fingers, making my elbows mostly immobile.

I was able to meet with a surgeon the next day. He told me my accident was quite serious and confirmed that I would need surgery in both wrists. He recommended I elevate my wrists as much as possible, and keep my fingers moving, but of course avoid any other activity that would effect my wrists. I decided not to take the oxycontin they prescribed, recognizing its addictive effects can kick in quite quickly, and managed my pain through acetaminofin, ibuprofen, and some marijuana. I asked my partner and caregivers to keep track of my pill intake, which we timed and wrote down on a pad of paper in the kitchen. I was quite ready for the next dose as they wore off.

I found that staying active was the biggest factor in decreasing my pain. Packing my arms and hands with ice packs was also helpful. At the drug store, we bought some reuseable ice gel packs that were a sort of sleeve. It was a warm week and the ice was very soothing, even if it didn’t exactly come through my splints. I tried to move around the house as much as possible and move my shoulders and legs.

However, I also had to keep a very careful eye on my movement. Any loss of balance or an obstacle in the room was a real danger, because I would not have been able to break my fall if I were to lose my balance. My partner spent some time arranging the apartment to avoid such issues. I enjoyed walking outside (and with two arms in slings I got a lot of attention, which was fun for a while), but we avoided busy and crowded areas and went very slowly so that I wouldn’t slip.

Of course, what you’re not prepared for with two immobile wrists is that you need constant care and support. I couldn’t feed myself, dress myself, open a door, brush my teeth, or perform countless other activities that we take for granted. My partner works full time, so he got a day off, and we used that first day to “rally the troops.” It’s no time to be shy and we pulled together a team as quickly as possible, covering the next week. In my case, more people was better because it was a lot for one person. I work with some dancers in my work and they were terrific — besides having flexible schedules, they gave me good advice on how to use my body differently.

Getting a long list of people in advance is really helpful. Luckily, I could still send text messages with one finger, and that made it possible for me to organize some of these things on my own. Having the company was also really helpful, as it was quite a shock to be so incapacitated. Those first weeks are critical for assistance and support.

We made sure the house was well stocked with things like straws, so that I could drink from a cup by leaning over. We bought some special plastic covers made for the arms so that I could shower. These were hard to maneuver and expensive, but still far easier than trying to use plastic bags.

Nine days after the accident, I had my surgery. The waiting time was due to the complexity of organizing surgery on two arms at once. The doctors had ordered an MRI, through which they realized that my left wrist was far worse then they expected. They thought they might need external hardware on that wrist, but were able to manage with pins, plates, and screws internally in both wrists.

The first day after surgery I was quite out of it, and my pain was generally worse than the the first week. My hands turned purple and swelled up. I elevated as much as possible and kept my fingers moving. I was so excited not to have my elbows constricted (my post-surgery casts let my elbows free) that I began to move my elbows as much as possible. This wasn’t the best idea as the next day I had terrible pain in both — it was a shock to my body and perhaps they had “calcified.” This was actually worse than the pain in my wrists. The pain was hard for a few days, but I continued to manage without Okycontin, and by day four it was fairly manageable. Again, I must emphasize that staying active really helped! Just walking back and forth around the house got the blood flowing and I noticed that the pain lessened as I stayed active. Elevate your wrists and move your fingers as much as possible without causing damage.

I went back to work about a month after the accident, still in a condition to not be able to open doors or carry much. In retrospect, if there was any way I could have waited an extra week or two, I think I would have been stir crazy but a bit happier. I am a professor and it was very hard to manage getting around campus and focusing on working with students. My own recovery was very absorbing. Of course, I think this varies depending upon the severity of your accident.

After a couple more weeks, the surgeon removed my splints. This was the first time I saw my hands and arms after the accident, and I wasn’t ready for the shock. They were so emaciated and misshapen and black and blue, as well as covered with iodine stains from the surgery. I have a supportive friend who is not at all bothered by such things and she photographed them for me, something I’m glad I have a document of now. At this point I had removable braces. We cut up a bunch of old socks to wear under the braces.

Eventually the day came for my first session of physical therapy. As my pain tolerance is quite high, I wasn’t prepared for how painful this first session would be, or how scary it was to see how little movement I had. As the PT started moving my wrists, I immediately broke down into tears. It was the first movement to my wrists since the accident and I realized then how serious the situation had been.

Despite the very strong pain, I diligently performed my PT exercises several times a day and continued to try and keep my body active. I used products like arnica gel to help with the bruising and some of the pain, as well as a diaper rash cream that helped with all the sweating I was doing (it was summer).

Shalini on September 09, 2018:

This is for my son, he is 7years old, we met an accident last month, and my son's wrist was broken, Doctor decided to go with the cast, in the 5th week he took a x-ray, but still broken can been seen in one direction and he removed the cast and asked us to come after a week. Now 5th week completed,after removing the cast, will it fully recover?

Lorrie :) on June 09, 2018:

7 weeks since I broke my wrist. It huuuuurt, and happened exactly one week after knee replacement surgery. Recovering from both, but this injury hurts worse than the knee!! And they do really interesting things to a knee :O...I have good range of motion in the hand, just started back riding my bike (yay!! I missed it), but the dang thing still hurts!! Im going to start doing home exercises. My injured arm lost some muscle.

Linda on April 28, 2018:

Shattered my ulna and radius when I hit a crack in a parking lot while on a knee roller from a plate being put in my foot for a correction in the bones in my foot. Plates and screws. I'm struggling and its been six weeks. Going back to cut hair and really worried about the flexibility and strength. I need some prayers and have to work. This sucks. Worried about the vibration from the clippers. :( We'll see.

Rosalind Newton on March 21, 2018:

i had a fall one morning on my way to get into my car for work however I was in a lot of pain and continued to work and continued on with my work for more than 3 weeks even though I was still in pain then on my last day of work after 3 weeks of working through the pain I decided to to go to the minor injuries department at a hospital close by to me they xrayed my wrist and found that I had fractured my radius because the break had already started to heal so a splint was put on my wrist then I was to wait on a phone call in the next 7 days to be told what to do all I was told was to continue wearing the splint for the next 3 to 4 weeks and that was it so my doctor has given me a line for 4 weeks but after that I have no idea what im supposed to do ive had in my opinion very little help or information as how to continue and when I might get back to work however I will go back to my doctor when my line is running out as to find out where I go from here and this is what ive paid my national insurance for no help whats so ever.

Ricardo Nunes (author) from Portugal on November 21, 2017:

Hi, Tanya! You seem like a very determined person and already showing signs of great healing expectations. You`ll be fine, but before it will still hurt a lot, your strength and confidence will slowly grow to a point where you find yourself doing things you didn`t believe was possible before this event.

Keep us posted on your recovery, wishing you a fast and complete recovery! Take care

Tanya Bulpin on November 20, 2017:

I broke my wrist 10 weeks ago and had a plate and pins put in 2 weeks later .

I have been doing exercises daily .

It is getting better but don’t have any strength in it and still in pain.

Just started driving a few days ago painful doing this my surgeon and OT said to take time for it to heal but my GP said to go back to work . I have income protection who will cover me up to 2 years not banking on staying off that long I work in the community as a PC quite physical work lifting wheel chairs in and out of car boots , shopping and cleaning.

Would like any useful comments .

BusterGut on October 23, 2017:

In July I broke both my left arm and wrist in a motorcycle accident (car turning right from a left side road)

I was taken to the local hospital (Kingston in Surrey UK) and they did a temporary job of immobilizing it until 5 days later when I had an op. I had a further op two and a half weeks later as the plate they put it was in the wrong place. At the beginning of September I had the cast removed and my hand was x-rayed, the bones were all over the place. I have since been to Chelsea and Westminster hospital (London) where I was seen by a wrist specialist, what a difference, I am going back on the 15th November to see what they propose doing as he said it was a nasty break with the wrist being of no use for anything at the moment. He's said I will be able to play golf again, but I'm 63 and not to sure but it would be good to find out if anyone who broke both the radius and ulna bones close to the wrist ( I have not been able to even get the palm of my hand facing upward) also all the ligaments are torn and the surgeon thinks they might well have vanished as they aren't attached. I have pictures (ct and x-ray) of the joints but don't know how to show them here.

Cheers

george on September 02, 2017:

my name is George I had a broken leg on June 4 2017 and is one month now and i just start using crunches and still the bone has not fully joint pls i want to no how long it will take my bone to join because am still feeling some sound when ever am using my crunches pls i need some enlightenment

Jen on August 25, 2017:

Thank you for this!

Karen on August 21, 2017:

I really appreciate everyone's sharing. I broke both wrists in January from a fall in the bathroom. I had a plate put in my right wrist. The bone healing was the least of my problems. Therapy started a week after surgery on my right wrist and my left once the cast came off. But what surprised me was the nerve misfires throughout my body. Eventually it was only in my hands. I was a hot mess emotionally. I was not prepared for the therapy pain. My fingers were stiff and painful. Eventually my doctor orders splints to to help in stretching both of my hands at home in addition to therapy. That really helped me. Early June, I finished therapy still need to do my home exercises as stiffness still tries to take over. I made more progress and we took a much needed vacation! I appreciate now the push to do the work and encourage everyone to not give up. Then, celebrate!

John on August 17, 2017:

I feel your pain. I fractured my left wrist 11/27. Had external fixation for ren weeks. 5/1 I had the same plate put in my wrist. 9 months later my fingers are stiff and I have pain every day. . I was 61....first broken bone....

Felister on August 03, 2017:

Wow!

Great information, thankyou.

Am healing from a double fracture on my left arm(my wrist and metacarpals).

This was from a road accident.

The cast has taken now 10weeks but unfortunately there was misalignment of my digit bone.

I thought something is really going sour and felt really down.

Am encouraged by this information.

Looking forward to healing as I keep on visiting the orthopedist for correction, guidance and advice

Ranie Blankman on August 02, 2017:

I have a story I'd like to tell.. 3mos ago I was taking my rescued male pitbull that I had only owned 5 mos I rescued him from a shelter in CA I live in WA state. He was a 85 - 90 lb dog. Took him out for his morning business he ran away from me turned around came Bach and lunged on me grabbed me by my left wrist I new the bite was differant from play. I turned away from him as he had my arm I screamed for my niece. She is a young 100 lb girl. I was already in shock so I didn't have it in me to even make eye contact with him let alone try to fight him off. So I yelled and screamed for my niece she finally herd me came out and I yelled babe help me get this dog off me. So she charged him with fire in her eyes grabbed him around his throat. He redirected and let go of me. I ran away from him at this time she had him by his choke coller and had some what control of him. I tied his leash to the fence and told her 123 get out of his reach. He started barking and going off he was out for more blood. I got to the porch took off my robe and saw that he had ripped my wrist open all the way to the bone. Called 911 and my husband and I was medivaked to the closest trauma center and had emergency surgery I got 3pins in my ulnar styli and 5th meticarpal. I ended up having 5 major lacerations to my left arm 3 mos after the fact I go in in 2 days to get my pins remove and plates put in also bone graft. Because there non-union. And perhaps infection. The dog was put down immediately. I miss my dog. Really and truly there was no provocation. He just turned on me.. The place I got him from swore oh he's a good boy he's good with kids and people. Only to find out later that he was on the euthanasia list. Because of human aggression..... This could of happened to the 3kids that he played with daily. She did no home check. She lied and did not disclose everything about this dog. In the 5 mos I has him he was nothing but loved showered and pampered he was a very happy boy. Why this happened or what I did wrong perhaps I'll never know. But this is for sure. I have a long hard painful road ahead of me. I have been around the bully breed my whole life. Have raised awesome dogs. Because I did nothing but give an orphaned boy a great home where he was loved and never had to run the streets or whatever his past was like he didn't have to live like that anymore. But that day in the pasture he wanted to kill me for what reason I'll never know. Thank you for letting me tell my story here. I go Friday gorgeous surgery #2 I'm scared I don't want to live in pain anymore.... I love my dude why is the question.... He loved me so much ill be permanently disfigured because of it... Wish I could post piks. Need all the heeling advice I can get thanks

Rei on July 04, 2017:

When I was 10 I was riding down a big hill on my bike. We were at the bottom of the hill so we have picked up lots of speed. My friend ahead of me slows down and I slam on my breaks and fall asleep right over my handle bars with my bike on top of me. My friend lifted my bike off myself and the nose, lips, and mouth were all bleeding. I was still in shock of what happened, I was spitting out blood that was in my mouth the night I felt two pieces of something solid in my mouth, I spit it out on my hand and it turned out my tooth got chipped. I had a phone with me, I tried to call my mom but I thought it was dead. We decided to head back up the hill. My back wheel on my bike was not working or moving, I had lots of trouble trying to push it up the hill because my wrist were hurting. My friend wasn't very injured so she carried ,y bike while I pushed hers. More then half way up the hill I checked the phone again to see if it really was dead just to make sure, it wasn't dead, just before I couldn't see the screen because of the sun. I called my mom and she came to pick us. After me complaining multiple times my mom decided to go get x-rays the next day. We told them that both of my wrists hurt but they only x-rayed one because they thought I was using the other fine. We found out the one we x-rayed was broken so they wrapped it up. After that my other arm was still causing me pain, so the day after we yet again went to get x-rays. We found out my second wrist was broken, after the next two days we got waterproof removable casts, they were called exos. My recovery certainly wasn't as horrible as other people's, but it wasn't very nice! I had to wear them for around a month and a half and then had to wear them for physical activities for the next two weeks. Till this day I'm still a little scared going down big hills and using my breaks!

Celtress on July 02, 2017:

Update on my wrist. On Feb 8th I had a comminuted distal radius fracture that was set in the ER and without surgery, it's not quite in place, but close enough. The bone itself has healed and very rarely bothers me but I have constant pain on the ulnar side that intensifies with movement. Doc said I need to wait until the end of July when he'll shoot some cortisone in there to try and calm it down.

I find I have less coordination and speed with that hand, and drastically different strength. I'm hoping I can work to improve that one I get the shot.

At times, for no apparent reason, I get a sharp pain (ulnar side) that is at times severe. I take half a pain pill at night to help me sleep and hopefully keep the pain from waking me up.

I'm getting discouraged, I had expected better progress by now.

Anne on June 30, 2017:

This is an update to a post I made five months ago. It has been eight months since I broke my non-dominant wrist, both the radius and ulna. I had an external fixation device for about seven weeks, then removable splints and about six months of physical/occupational therapy for my hand. I started to finally see lessening of stiffness and function of my fingers about five months after my fall, when I started doing massage and breathing exercises to reduce swelling. Neither the therapists nor doctor gave me the information that I found from some online research I did on Youtube. I strongly suggest anyone who is having persistent swelling to search lymphedema of the arm and educate yourself. The therapy and exercises are so much more effective once swelling is reduced and in my experience, reducing swelling saves so much healing time. I also found that once the swelling came down, incorporating small hand weights into my exercise routine helped speed up regaining wrist and hand function.

My last bit of advice is that in the early stages, even though you may want and need to keep your arm elevated as much as possible to avoid more swelling, try to occasionally move and rotate your shoulder. It is common for people who have wrist breaks to develop frozen shoulder caused simply by not moving the shoulder for as little as a couple of weeks. Unfortunately that happened to me and I had to go through a few months of painful therapy and a lot more exercises to gain back the mobility I lost. The orthopedic doctor should have warned me about this and didn't recognize it had happened. I switched to a different orthopedic doctor who finally diagnosed it. I had never even heard of frozen shoulder but realize now it's somewhat common after other injuries. I think it would have been avoidable if I knew about it.

I'm finally finished with physical therapy and feel mostly normal. My pinky is still bent and lost a lot of its function. My thumb lost some rotation and my wrist rotation in both directions has come a long way but still has a way to go. I try to still do some hand and shoulder exercises every day and my fingers are only stiff first thing in the morning. Other than reduced strength in the affected hand, there's not much I can't do with it, which I'm very happy about.

Does anyone have any advice on how to get the pinky to straighten out and function normally? I hope it will improve over time.

Liz on June 17, 2017:

Thanks for sharing this! I was in a car accident three weeks ago, my wrist broke in several pieces and had surgery. The doctor did say I will need physical therapy once my cast is off. ( Your left wrist X-ray looks very similar to mine.)I was just wondering more about the physical therapy part. Right now I can move my fingers pretty well but I can't straighten them. They shake and it hurts to move them too much but I exercise them everyday. I really don't know what to expect. I'm also young and an like to be active so this whole thing has been difficult for me especially when the accident was not my fault. (She was distracted and she hit me going 60 mph or 95 kmp) anyways I appreciate any advice!! Thank you

BobbyAg on June 14, 2017:

This is for Gael.

My story is similar to yours. I got my surgery done at 10 weeks. Tried occupational therapy for 2 weeks after cast removal at 8 weeks. Wasn't helping much. Finally got surgery at 10 weeks which actually should have happened immediately after my fall. No sense blaming Doctors. Delayed surgery led to unimaginable stiffness, crps, trigger finger, all sorts of things. Been under therapy for 9 months now. Have around 70 % ROM back. Getting surgery done next month to get my plates removed. That might help in getting further ROM.

If needed please get surgery done even now. It's never too late.

vijaya mary on June 13, 2017:

thank you for your post

Becky Moreau on June 13, 2017:

Thank you for your post. I broke my right radius and had surgery on it like your left wrist 4 wks ago. My Dr was amazing.. I've been a hair stylist for 18 years an I'm hoping for a speedy recovery. I love what I do!!

The pain has been hard for me.. as I am a very busy person usually and like to live that way. The pain has forced me to slow down. Last wk I started occupational therapy (only your movements for the next 3 to 4 weeks ) by mid day I need to elevate it. The pain exhaust me. I know once I start to move my wrist it's going to be even harder and I'm ready for it.. I hope. My doctor gave me a cast that I could remove if it gets hot and I need to wipe my arm down which is great considering we're going into the summer.

Thank you again for your story it gives me hope !!!

Alison Ktona on June 10, 2017:

I had such a Massive infection in my wrist

That it caused Compartment Syndrome

in October 2003. I was RUSHED into the Or and subsequent Underwent 6 operations within a 13 day period. Fast forward to 9 months later, Severe Pain returned and when I would move my wrist it would make crackeling sounds, it sounded kind of like Rice Krispies so they did a MRI and found Osteo Myelitis so I had another Incision & Drainage at which point she noticed that the infection I had had been Sooo Accostic that it had comply eaten through all the soft tissue and cartilage in my wrist! When I awoke Post opperatively the Surgeon told me that I had to remain Infection Free for 6 months at which point she would need to COMPLETELY FUSE my Left wrist! I had the Fusion surgery Sept 11th 2004 and that caused me to develop Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) aka Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). I will have CHRONIC PAIN for the rest of my 41year young life. My post Fusion X-ray looks Exactly like yours! Good Luck.

Gael on May 20, 2017:

Thank you for post. Broke my wrist 8 weeks ago. Should have been advised to have surgery due to the severity of the break. Unfortunately this didn't happen due to bad advice from a doctor. The cast was removed after eight weeks and I'm now trying to get the use of my wrist again with occupational therapy.

Sylvia on May 20, 2017:

I broke my right wrist on May 17. My fingers are numb. Is this normal? I can bend my fingers. Dr says 4 weeks in a hard cast. Then a removable one. I am 77 with osteoporosis.

Dean on May 15, 2017:

Thanks for your story, it's been a massive help seeing as I've got my surgery tomorrow after annihilating my left wrist:(

I was just wondering how much it cost for you