Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Hand FAQ


What are my chances for going back to work after a wrist fracture? I think I broke just the end of the radial bone but it moved to one side, so I had to have surgery to put it back in place.


It sounds like you may have had a displaced intra-articular fracture of the distal radius. Surgery is needed to realign the joint surfaces to avoid uneven wear and tear and eventual arthritis.

According to the results of other patients in long-term studies, your chances of returning to work are very good. Patients after healing from the same kind of fracture you're describing were examined for 17 areas of function. Tasks included lifting, lowering, and carrying. They were also tested for range of motion, strength, and endurance. Dexterity or the ability to manipulate small objects was also measured.

Hand and upper extremity function was good enough for most patients to return to their previous jobs. In some cases, the workload had to be exchanged for lighter duty. Most of these same people still had good function when retested seven and again 15 years later.

Of course some of this decision may depend on the type of work you do and the kind of final results you will get from the surgery.

Charles A. Goldfarb, MD, et al. Fifteen-Year Outcome of Displaced Intra-Articular Fractures of the Distal Radius. In The Journal of Hand Surgery. April 2006. Vol. 31A. No. 4. Pp. 633-639.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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