My wife fell off some temporary scaffolding we had from the front door of our house to the garage. She broke her wrist, but the surgeon said it was a good break. I was never really sure what she meant by that. What is a good break?
We don't have any particulars about your wife's fracture. But we can say that, in general, it's better to have a nondisplaced fracture (versus displaced). Nondisplaced means the bone broke but the two ends of the bone did not separate.
With a displaced (separated) fracture, there's a greater chance that the jagged, separated edges of the bone can puncture a blood vessel or nerve. Likewise, tendons could be cut by wrist movement. The displaced bones in the wrist rubbing across the tendons or muscles cause the damage.
It's also possible with a displaced wrist fracture to develop acute carpal tunnel syndrome. There can be contusion, deformity, or swelling from elevated pressure within the tunnel. Any of these problems can cause median nerve dysfunction and lead to permanent damage of the median nerve. Early recognition and treatment of any of these factors can prevent long-term problems.
If your wife simply suffered a break without any of these complications, the surgeon may have counted it as a good break. You would have to ask the question directly to know for sure.
George Dyer, MD, et al. Predictors of Acute Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Associated with Fracture of the Distal Radius. In The Journal of Hand Surgery. October 2008. Vol. 33A. No. 8. Pp. 1309-1313.
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