The most common type of fracture in the human skeleton is to the distal radius. Given the high number of distal radius procedures, along with the elevated risk for a negative outcome, such as malunion, loss of radial length, inclination, and volar or dorsal angulation, there is an increased likelihood that such procedures will result in a medical malpractice claim.
A distal radius fracture is a break at the area of the radius bone located near the wrist. The radius is the larger of the two bones that extend from the wrist to the elbow. The distal end is the area at the end of the radius nearest the wrist. This area near the joint has little protection and is therefore prone to injury in accidents that involve the arm.
This type of fracture often occurs in accidents, including slip and falls because the person will often land with an outstretched arm. Other types of accidents that can result in this injury include motor vehicle accidents, bicycle accidents, accidents involving sports, and other types of accidents.
- Immediate pain
- Reduced ability to move the wrist
With enough force, a distal radius fracture can occur in healthy bones. However a person with osteoporosis and other bone diseases may be at an increased risk of wrist fractures. Even the most minor of falls in people over 60 years of age can result in a broken wrist. Osteoporosis has been a factor in about 250,000 wrist fractures each year.
In order to determine where and the extent of the fracture, a doctor will often perform a physical examination and x-ray tests. Even though a distal radius fracture is usually located about one inch from the tip of the bone, factures can still occur in different ways. The types of distal radius fractures are:
- Intra-articular fracture
- Extra-articular fracture
- Open fracture
- Continued fracture
In order to determine how the fracture is treated it is important to determine the type of fracture.
Emergency medical treatment may or may not be required. This depends on the type of fracture, the presence of a deformity, and the level of pain. To determine the type of treatment the patient requires the doctor will factor in the type of fracture, the patient’s age and health, and the doctor’s preferences and recommendations.
Types of treatments include putting the wrist in a cast or surgery. If surgery is required, options include realigning the broken bones through an incision in the skin, stabilizing the bone with metal pins, screws, or plates, using external fixators, or a combination of the techniques.
After surgery, patients are usually advised to use ice and elevate the area, and are prescribed pain medication. Most surgeons will place a cast on the wrist area to insure the bone remains immobilized and giving it a chance to heal, though the use of the cast will depend on the type of fracture.
During rehabilitation, doctors will often recommend that the patient undergo physical therapy or provide the patient with a set of recommendations for exercise to return strength, stability and range of motion to the bone and wrist area.
If you have been injured as the result of a physician treating a distal radius fracture negligently, contact an experienced Kingston, New York medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.
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