man holding wrist

Wrist Fractures

Wrist injuries require immediate attention to ensure that what you think is a sprain is not actually a wrist fracture.

If an untreated break heals improperly, it can limit your ability to do everyday activities as simple as buttoning a shirt.

Noted Austin orthopedic surgeon Gregg A. Vagner, M.D., specializes in wrists, using the latest techniques to prevent lifelong damage.

Do You Suspect Your Wrist Is Broken?

It's important to seek immediate care. If you delay treatment, your wrist could heal improperly and leave you with limited movement. Dr. Vagner in Austin, TX, specializes in the treatment of hand, wrist, and elbow issues. This specialization keeps him at the forefront of the latest techniques, including minimally invasive surgery, to offer patients top-tier care.

Symptoms of a Broken Wrist

Many people think that if they can still move their wrist, it isn't broken. Unfortunately, that is not true. Some signs that a wrist is broken include: 

  • Pain and swelling in the wrist
  • Difficulty using your hand or wrist
  • Pain when you move your fingers
  • Fingers that are numb or tingling
  • A visible deformity in the wrist
  • A bone is protruding through the skin

Maybe It's Only a Sprain?

The symptoms of a sprain and a fracture are similar, which makes it difficult to determine on your own if you have a wrist fracture. If you injured your wrist, it's important to see a doctor. Ideally, you should see a surgeon who specializes in hands, wrists, and forearms to have it diagnosed so that you don't risk permanent damage.

Wrist Fracture Overview

Dr. Vagner explains wrist fracture types, symptoms, and treatments, including surgery.

Schedule a Consultation With a Highly Trained Orthopedic Surgeon

Dr. Vagner has the unique distraction of being board-certified in both orthopedic and hand surgery. By focusing on injuries to the joints of the arm, specifically the hand, wrist, and elbow, he is able to offer patients highly refined medical care.

Dr. Vagner opened his practice in 2005, bringing specialized orthopedic care to patients in Austin, Cedar Park, and Greater Austin, TX. He is also an Assistant Professor of Surgery and Perioperative Care at Dell Medical School and the hand surgery consultant for the University of Texas athletic department.

Although Dr. Vagner is a highly trained surgeon, he approaches each case by focusing on the most conservative treatment possible. If surgery is needed, Dr. Vagner selects the least invasive methods possible.

To ensure he can provide patients with the latest and most effective advances in orthopedic care, Dr. Vagner continuously updates his techniques and technology. He also strives to make medical care as affordable as possible by accepting most insurance plans and offering a number of financing solutions.

If you are concerned about an injured wrist and have questions, or if you want to schedule a consultation, please contact us online or give us a call:

(512) 454-4561

Dr. Vagner

High Praise for Dr. Vagner

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Jan Leavelle

February 23, 2015

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Dr. Vagner came very highly recommended to me by another physician. I was not disappointed! He's a great listener and very brilliant. He took time with me, and explained everything to me in layman's terms that I could understand. His staff was very friendly, efficient, and helpful.

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Susan Porter Stahl

April 20, 2018

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Dr. Vagner is great. He’s got a kind, caring, knowledgeable manner. I have recommended him to friends.

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Falls: A Common Cause of Broken Wrists

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Most wrist fractures happen when you fall onto your extended hand, which results in a distal radius fracture. Car accidents, sporting injuries, and similar events can also cause a broken wrist. People with osteoporosis are more prone to fractures. Whatever the cause, timely care is important since delay can allow the fracture to heal improperly.

Diagnosing a Wrist Fracture
Using Advanced Imaging Technology

In addition to traditional x-rays, we may determine a CT (computed tomography) scan or an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan is needed to help rule out injuries to the surrounding bones and ligaments. These images will also help Dr. Vagner determine the severity of your injury. After a full assessment, he will recommend appropriate care on a case-by-case basis.

We May Recommend a Bone Density Test

Women over the age of 50 who sustain a wrist fracture are encouraged to undergo a DXA (dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry) test. This assessment measures bone density and is effective for detecting the presence of osteoporosis.

x ray of wrists
Comprehensive diagnostic imaging is essential for confirming a fracture.

Treatment Options for Wrist Fractures

There are several different options for treating a fractured wrist. The method recommended for you will depend on the type and severity of the break. For example, Dr. Vagner can usually treat a simple break with a cast or splint. However, if you have a displaced or unstable break, you may need surgery. Common treatment options include:

Closed Reduction 

After administering anesthesia to ensure your comfort, Dr. Vagner manipulates the broken bone fragments into proper alignment without creating incisions or exposing the fracture.

Once the fracture is reduced, a cast is placed to stabilize the wrist and neutralize forces. During recovery, the cast will be removed and replaced several times to ensure the fracture is properly supported. If the break has been successfully addressed with reduction, then casting may be the only necessary treatment.

Surgical Procedures

Once a fracture occurs, patients have a two-week window before bone healing begins. Dr. Vagner performs several different types of surgeries for wrist fractures, including:

  • Percutaneous Fixation: Some fractures that are unstable in a cast alone can be treated with the addition of surgical pins. These can be placed through the skin, without creating incisions. Typically, the procedure is performed in an operating room under regional anesthesia and a cast will be placed afterward.

  • External Fixation: Severe fractures can be treated with this time-tested method. Small incisions are created on either side of the fracture, and pins are placed to stabilize the bone. Finally, an external frame is connected to the pins to provide support.

  • Internal Fixation: Surgical pins, plates, and screws can be used to stabilize the wrist once the bones are repositioned. This procedure can reduce or eliminate the need for an external device.

Biologic Agents

Regenerative therapy has made great strides in recent years. Biologic agents can enhance bone healing and support the body’s own recovery process. Research indicates that biologics may be able to shorten post-surgical healing times substantially.

Kind Words from Our Patients

1

Megan Boulette

2021

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Dr. Vagner is a very knowledgeable, personable, and caring professional who explains the medical issue, treatment options, and patient-approved treatment plan clearly, thoroughly, and respectfully. I would definitely see him again should the need arise.

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The Conk

July 17, 20XX

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Very Professional and Polite Surgeon. He was able to quickly meet us at Dell Childrens on a late Sunday afternoon after my son had a bad incident with a finger. While it looked really bad, he went to work quickly and managed to repair the damage and give my son access to his finger again. Hate to be in a situation like this, but so very happy that Dr Vagner was able to calmly guide us out of trouble.

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Gregg A. Vagner, M.D.

Gregg A. Vagner, M.D.

Dr. Gregg A. Vagner is a double board-certified surgeon specializing in hand, wrist, and elbow injuries. With three locations in greater Austin, TX, Dr. Vagner provides conservative care for:

To request an appointment with Dr. Vagner, please contact us online or call (512) 454-4561.

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