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Forum Name: Bone trauma and fractures

Question: joint pain in wrist, post fracture


 uncertainty - Wed Apr 01, 2009 10:19 am

Hello. I'm a 21 year old male, with little substantial medical history.

At age 15, I broke my left wrist (through both growth plates). This was not a hairline fracture, my hand was literally attached by skin and connective tissue. The orthopedic surgeon re-set the bones under conscious sedation, no invasive surgery was necessary. The bones healed normally, however, in the years following the wrist has become stiff and I've lost a lot of mobility and lifting capability. I'm also a left-handed writer, and the pain and stiffness is so bad I've had to learn to write with my right hand.

X-ray imaging has shown the growth plates to be slightly enlarged, which would explain loss of range of motion and pain with movement.

In the past 8 months, I've felt moderate to severe pain in said wrist (6 to 9 on the meaningless pain scale) and it's worse if I try to move it. This is interfering with both work and school.

I've tried taking aspirin, advil, and even various over the counter arthritis medication, to no avail. 1000mg acetemenaphin (sp?) does nothing but make me fall asleep, which is nice however I don't want to damage my liver at such a young age. Recently I had an unrelated medical problem where I was prescribed hydrocodone, then oxycodone for renal colic, which worked wonderfully for the wrist pain however I've heard so much about the horrors opiate dependency and addiction, that that's something I don't want to risk.

What kind of specialist should I see? What can I expect? Is this a problem I can have fixed through surgery? Do the risks outweigh the pain and inconvenience of living with this problem?

I'm so confused, uncertain, and tired of living with this that any help you can offer would be forever appreciated.
 Tom Plamondon PA-C - Sat Apr 04, 2009 9:52 pm

User avatar Hello,
The fracture in the growth plate is classified according to Salter/Harris classification system. At 15 y.o. your growth plate was nearly matured. It is possible a bony bridge developed across the growth plate to retard further growth in the wrist. This can predispose the wrist to angular deformities...leading to pain and dysfunction.
Since you are 21 y.o. there is no indication to remove the bony bridge. Certainly follow up xrays are important to see if any secondary deformities exist and if any splinting or surgical correction can be done. Otherwise, the remaining treatment options involve rehabilitating the hand and possible splinting.
Hope this gives you some direction.
Take care and let us know how things turn out.

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