Broken Wrist Symptoms

Updated February 21, 2017

It's easy to break a wrist if you fall, whether due to slipping on ice or tumbling while playing sports. It is instinct to brace ourselves, and when we do, sometimes the wrist can't handle the impact. You can also break your wrist by hitting a hard object. No matter how the injury occurs, there are certain symptoms you should watch for to determine if you have broken your wrist. The severity of pain and other symptoms depend on how bad the fracture is.


If you have broken your wrist, you may experience intense pain even if it is just a small fracture. Throbbing and hot, sharp, shooting pain are common, and you may feel this pain radiating down your entire hand on the side of the break. The pain will almost always be worse if you try to move your hand or wrist in any way.


A broken wrist will usually swell (and may bruise). How much it swells depends on the extent of the break as well as how it was broken. For example, if a wrist is broken due to striking the side of it against a hard surface (such as a wall or pavement), there is likely to be soft tissue damage as well. If the wrist is broken due to catching oneself to break a fall, the soft tissue damage may not be as severe.

Odd Shape

If the break is more than a hairline fracture, you may note some deformity where the break occurred. This may be corrected after the wrist has been in a cast for awhile and the bone has healed. However, it is not uncommon for a slight bump to remain at the site of the break.

Numbness and Coldness

You may experience numbness in your fingers or hand. This can be caused simply from the shock of the injury or you could have nerve damage or inflammation.
Along with the numbness, you may feel coldness and/or tingling in the area. This can be localised to the break or spread over the fingers, especially the fingers on the side of the break.


Sprains often cause similar symptoms. If you think your wrist may be broken, you should see a doctor for X-rays, which may be the only way to know for certain whether the wrist is broken or sprained. If the bone is broken, the wrist will need to be put in a brace and/or cast to help the bone heal correctly. If it is sprained, it will still need to be immobilised but you may not need a cast.

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