Slip and fall injuries are incredibly common, especially during the winter time in Minnesota when snow and ice oftentimes cover walkways and paths. When you feel yourself slipping or falling, your natural reaction is to try to brace your fall, and we typically do this by extending our hands. This may help limit the physical impact on your head or back, but it also means that your hands absorb the brunt of the fall. If this area is overloaded by the stress of the fall, it can lead to a fracture of the wrist.
The most common type of fracture suffered in this type of fall is known as a Colles’ fracture, and it’s classified by a break in the radius bone of the forearm, very near your wrist joint. This type of fracture typically requires surgery in order to ensure the bones heal correctly, and then you’ll need to immobilize the area for an extended period of time. Because of this, physical therapy is oftentimes exactly what you need in order to get your wrist back to full strength in the wake of surgery and immobilization. We talk more about the process in today’s blog.
Physical Therapy For Wrist Fractures
The main focus of a physical therapy program will be to strengthen the muscles and supportive soft tissues that have been weakened as a result of your injury or lack of mobility during the recovery period. Strengthening the tissues that have atrophied during this period of immobilization is key to getting back to full physical function. Alongside strength training, your physical therapist will also mix in some flexibility and range of motion exercises. You’ll need to train your body to regain this comfortable range of motion following surgery and weeks of wrist immobilization, so carefully working to extend your flexibility is helpful during your recovery period.
Another physical task that will be emphasized during your rehab is restoring your grip strength. Odds are your grip strength will have weakened as a result of your injury or the immobilization period, and restoring this ability will ensure you can continue to carry objects with ease and without discomfort. Simple grip exercises like squeezing a towel or a stress ball are activities you can perform in the clinic or at home to help continue to improve your grip strength.
Restoring physical function in your wrist will be the main job of your physical therapist, but they can be an even bigger asset in your road to recovery. Other things they can help with during your rehabilitation period include:
- Splinting/Bracing care and management.
- Injury education.
- Manual therapy.
- Compression therapy.
- Ergonomic modifications to return to work or other activities.
In other words, your physical therapist will be a jack of all trades in helping you restore function and confidence in your wrist in the wake of a fracture or severe sprain. Your wrist joints are essential for normal hand function, and considering how often we use our hands each day, nobody wants to go through life with chronic wrist discomfort. Instead, connect with a physical therapist who can help you get back to pain free movement in your wrists. For more information, or for help with a different physical issue, reach out to the team at OrthoRehab Specialists today at (612) 339-2041.