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Swelling in hand and wrist. Recovering from broken metacarpal. Causes?

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Orthopaedic Surgeon
Practicing since : 1994
Answered : 9020 Questions
My 4th metacarpal was broken 9 weeks ago. The bone has healed but my hand and wrist are still swollen. What is the cause and when should this go away? age 59 height 5'10" female no other health problems and not on any medication
Posted Mon, 7 May 2012 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Answered by Dr. Praveen Tayal 6 hours later
Thanks for posting your query.
The swelling in the hand and wrist after healing of the bone is due to post traumatic stiffness. You need to do hot fomentation and hand stretching exercises with wrist movement under the guidance of your physiotherapist.
As the range of movement of your hand will recover, the swelling will subside. Usually it takes 3-5 weeks after the removal of the cast for such swelling to subside provided you follow the instructions of your physiotherapist adequately.
I hope this answers your query effectively.
In case you have additional questions or doubts, you can forward them to me, and I shall be glad to help you out.
Wishing you good health.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Swelling in hand and wrist. Recovering from broken metacarpal. Causes? 16 hours later
It has been about 4 weeks since the casts and splint have been removed but the mobility in my wrist is very bad. When I force my hand to bend at my wrist it is painful. There was nothing diagonsed wrong with my wrist when my metacarpal was broken. The dexterity in the fingers is good but my ring finger usually a size 6 is still so swollen that I can't get a size 9 ring on the finger. I go to therapy 2X a week and work full time. Is it unusual that the wrist is so stiff and the swelling so prominent. According to your information the swelling should be pretty much gone. Even to get my hand to go flat on a table I have to push my fingers down because they won't flatten by themselves. My fingers have a bow to them they are now not naturally straight.
Answered by Dr. Praveen Tayal 9 hours later
Thanks for writing again.

It is normal to have stiffness of wrist due to disuse and immobility during the time cast was in place.

You need to have a rigorous physiotherapy sessions daily along with hot fomentation to get back the full range of your movements at the wrist.

As soon as the full range of movements is restored, the swelling will subside.

Hope my answer is helpful.

Wishing you good health.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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