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Wrist Injury (cont.)

Exams and Tests

  • The doctor will ask what happened. Sometimes the way you fell (the mechanism of injury) tells what type of injuries to look for. After taking a history, the doctor will examine the entire arm from the shoulder to the fingers. This is done to make sure there are no other injured areas. The doctor will also check to see how well the blood is flowing into the fingers and make sure there is no numbness in your hand.
  • When examining around the wrist, the doctor will gently push on the wrist to determine where there is tenderness. A special area that will be examined is called the anatomical snuffbox. This is the area that is indented when you stick your thumb up as if to hitchhike. Tenderness there is of special importance because the bone under that spot (the scaphoid) is the most common carpal bone that is fractured and often does not look fractured on the initial x-rays.

Anatomical snuffbox (see arrow): Under this area lies the scaphoid bone that is commonly broken, but the break may not show up on the initial x-rays. Photo courtesy of Edmond A. Hooker, MD, FAAEM

  • X-rays of the wrist or forearm or both may be taken.

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