When we fall forwards our first instinct is to protect the vital organs of the torso and the head from the impact with the ground. How? By using the first natural obstacle we have at our disposal: the upper limbs. Hands, wrists and forearms are exposed to a greater extent to injuries, which can result in more or less serious fractures of the hand or wrist. The most common are those of the distal radius. But how can we tell if after a fall the pain signals a fracture? We talked about it with Dr. Luciana Marzella, a specialist in Hand Surgery at Humanitas.
What to do in case of a fracture?
“Putting your hands forward – as the saying goes – is a valid and advisable protective mechanism in case of falls”, underlined Dr. Marzella, pointing out that the most common injuries are the fractures affecting the wrist and the most common are those of the distal radius. “There are other types of fractures – said the specialist – but they are less frequent and affect more the athletes. If after the fall the pain is not excessive, you can apply some ice and leave your wrist to rest, thus overcoming the acute phase. If the pain persists, the wrist swells and you cannot move, you should go to the emergency room. First, however, it is advisable to temporarily immobilize the wrist, using a rigid support, cover the upper part of the wrist with a cloth and secure it with adhesive tape or tape so that the situation may not get worse with the movement.
How to recognize a fracture? The diagnostic tools
“In the emergency room, the patient will be subjected to an X-ray that could confirm the presence of a wrist fracture – specified the doctor -. If the doctor deems it appropriate, the patient will be subjected to a CT scan; this examination is generally indicated where the fracture affects the portion of the joint”.
In some cases, surgery is necessary. The diagnosis, in addition to the X-ray, in this case can also be made in greater depth through an intraoperative arthroscopy that serves to observe the wrist in the round. In this way, the presence of associated ligamentous lesions (not visible in the X-ray) is sought, which it is essential to recognize in order to avoid the risk of irreversible damage due to degeneration of the wrist.