How to manage a hairline fracture of the wrist

Fact Checked

Hairline fractures of the wrist involves a fine line of breakage on the skin. It is a minor condition that does not affect the normal alignment of the bone and there is no separation.

Gymnasts, basketball players, tennis players and divers are prone to overuse the wrist and result to a hairline fracture of the wrist. These fractures are likely to occur among women above the age of 40. Women playing sports are also prone to these fractures due to eating disorders such as anorexia, osteoporosis and irregular menstruation.

Causes of hairline fracture of the wrist

  • Trauma or injury on the wrist
  • Repetitive use of the area
  • A strong force on the wrist
  • Sudden falls


  • Pain can be felt at the wrist joint and becomes severe when moving the wrist such as writing or holding an object.
  • Bruising of the affected area which happens when blood leaks in the blood vessel of the bone and other tissues. The bruise appears blue or greenish in color and eventually darkens. It will remain for a few days and eventually disappears.
  • Wrist joint and the palm are swollen
  • Tingling sensation or loss of sensation on the affected area
  • A limited movement of the wrist joint


hairline fracture
Pain can be felt at the wrist joint and becomes severe when moving the wrist such as writing or holding an object.
  • Take plenty of rest especially the affected area.
  • Apply an ice pack on the affected area for at least 20 minutes to lessen swelling and pain. Avoid applying ice directly on the skin to prevent frostbite and making the condition worse.
  • Place a compression bandage to prevent swelling of the injured area. There are bandages and special tapes that are used for compression and avoid wrapping it too tight to prevent any disruption in the blood circulation in the area.
  • Elevate the affected area above the level of the heart to lessen the swelling, inflammation, pain and promote proper blood circulation in the area for at least 2 days.
  • Drink warm milk added with a teaspoon of turmeric powder every day for fast healing of the condition.
  • Take the prescribed over-the-counter pain medication such as acetaminophen, aspirin, naproxen and ibuprofen to lessen the pain and inflammation.
  • Eat foods rich in calcium to strengthen the bones

Treated hairline fracture of the wrist heals without complication. Sometimes, the affected individual experiences stiffness for a month and there is a need to move the fingers to prevent stiffness of the area.

Seek medical help immediately if there are any abnormal symptoms such as the nerve can become overstimulated after a fracture and result to a painful condition known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy. Tendons will rupture and there is limited movement of the thumb or finger. The capsule of the wrist joint is stretched or has tears. Fluid of the wrist can swell and result to a ganglion cyst and the ligaments found between the carpal bones can have tears that result to a painful movement.

More Information

The details posted on this page on hairline fracture of the wrist is for learning purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage various types of fractures including a hairline fracture of the wrist, enroll in a first aid course with one of our training providers.

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