Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Wrist FAQ

Question:

I work as a bricklayer for a large construction company. A pallet of bricks fell on me and I injured my wrist. Tests show I have a torn interosseous ligament between two bones in the wrist. My surgeon has suggested doing an operation right away. What happens if I wait and see if it heals on its own?

Answer:

Studies show that early repair is best. Results are unpredictable for patients who wait more than three months after the injury to have surgery.

Left untreated, pain and loss of strength can prevent even the simple tasks of everyday life. Over time the abnormal position of the two bones can cause degenerative and arthritic changes in the wrist. The bones may even start to collapse, a condition called scapholunate advanced collapse or SLAC wrist.

Even with treatment, normal motion and strength are not returned fully. Weakness and pain occurs anytime resistance is given to the wrist (called loading. You may have trouble returning full-time to your job as a bricklayer even with the operation. Without it, your chances of recovery are very slim.

Nickolaos A. Darlis, MD, et al. Arthroscopic Debridement and Closed Pinning for Chronic Dynamic Scapholunate Instability. In The Journal of Hand Surgery. March 2006. Vol.31A. No. 3. Pp. 418-424.

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