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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Broken wrist--distal radius fracture--4 months later

I fell backwards off a ladder, did a karate chop from h!ll behind me to break my fall and broke my wrist instead. And a distal ulna fracture as well! Those are the two major bones in your forearm. They end at where your wrist starts. Distal means "end of". Had surgery to pull the end of my radius back into proper position and place a 6" piece o' metal with 6 screws to hold it. Not having surgery wasn't even an option.

Was in a cast for 5 weeks. Swelling took 2 1/2 months to go mostly down. My hand looked like a gnarly leather glove! My arm (right and I'm right handed) just disappeared, muscle-wise. Couldn't work out, heck couldn't even tie my shoes, and sure as sh!t couldn't ride.

Finally the pain subsided enough I could start using my right hand, very very slowly at first till I could pick up a gallon of milk and shift my Element--whoopee!

4 months after my fall (August 22 at 2:24 pm) I've ridden easy trails 5 times and lift weights--again very slowly, like 12.5 lb curls and 20 lb dumbbell shrugs. At first it was trying not to lift so much that my hand felt like it was going to come off the end of my arm. Now I actually have definition creeping back to my arm and strength where before there was nothing. There was nerve damage as well--my middle two fingers feel like an electric shock is running up and down them. The docs say that may never go away. When I wash my hair in the shower my hair feels like sandpaper with my right hand. Oh, well, at least I can use it!

I'm looking forward to Moab in late March (maybe not Porc but maybe Sovereign) where in the first few months that seemed impossible. Make no mistake, the hand still hurts a lot while riding and my range of motion still sucks. I stretch 2 hours daily, still go to PT, wear a JAS splint three 30 minute sessions daily. (www.jointactivesystems.com--for all your range of motion needs, not just wrist injuries. A lot of docs don't know about these devices. See if your insurance covers one, mine does. They're not cheap to rent monthly which is how you do it, but you have six months from injury to get back what range of motion is possible. You gotta get on it NOW!) It pushes my hand backwards and the other way as well, but I really need the backwards motion the most. The turning of my hand left and right came back with the proper instructions on how to properly stretch. All thanks to my PT lady (Dona, bless her professional heart).

I feel like I can tell you my story on this forum without sounding like I'm whining. I don't compare my current condition with August 22 at 2:22 pm (lifted regularly, mountain biked pain free a lot and a contractor/carpenter). I now compare myself with when I was in the cast, one handed (and my off hand at that!) and kinda helpless. The fact I can ride easy trails with pain, lift lightly with pain and look forward to going back to Moab and ride is kind of overwhelming, actually, considering I was just a helpless dude terrified of falling down the stairs for quite a few weeks.

Others have commented on other threads that you probably won't be the same after rehabbing certain injuries and they're probably right. But your perspective changes to one of being grateful as heck for what you do have. Good luck, all of you coming back from injury. And try a JAS device for whatever injury you have. No, I don't work for them.
 

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Good work on your recovery xcguy; it sounds like you've come a long way. Just remember to take it s l o w.
Have any docs mentioned nerve reconstruction? A while back I severed a nerve in my hand that left me with similar numbness. Half of my index finger felt like raw meat and I even lost my fingerprint on that side. Doc told me that surgery, while not perfect, could help. I gave it a shot and a year later had much of the feeling back. Not 100%, but at least now I'll notice if I'm touching a red hot brake rotor.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
please not another surgery!

Coaster? said:
Good work on your recovery xcguy; it sounds like you've come a long way. Just remember to take it s l o w.
Have any docs mentioned nerve reconstruction? A while back I severed a nerve in my hand that left me with similar numbness. Half of my index finger felt like raw meat and I even lost my fingerprint on that side. Doc told me that surgery, while not perfect, could help. I gave it a shot and a year later had much of the feeling back. Not 100%, but at least now I'll notice if I'm touching a red hot brake rotor.
I asked them about the tingling sensation from day one but their tests confirmed the nerves weren't severed just "shocked" bigtime. I would imagine that that you went from where your hand was to where my hand is now with your surgery. Whether or not I can go from where I am now to 100% with another surgery is doubtful, considering the risks involved with any surgery.
I will ask my surgeon next time I see her, though, thanks for the advice. How long did it take for your hand to get back to "normal" mobility-and-strengthwise after your surgery?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
an update on my progress

It's been only a few days since I started this thread, but I've ridden a few pretty gnarly rides since then, to test things. My fitness is coming back, and even though I still walk some downhill sections that I didn't think about riding before, I can get out there and ride not just the easy stuff. The long downhill bumpy sections really hurt, but I do these in small amounts, go back to my truck and go home. Today I lifted some landscaping rocks and put them around my garden, something that was unthinkable just 3 weeks ago.

I know some of you out there are in the same condition I was at first, but so far I am amazed and extremely gratified at my body's ability to heal. I'm trying not to do anything stupid, but I gotta say that once I was able to use my hand after the pain subsided my strength is coming back nicely. But, and this is a big but, you cannot forget to work on your range of motion. In fact, I'm going to put on my JAS brace right now. Good luck.
 

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After breaking the radius at the other end (elbow) in October, I am still unable to completely straighten my arm. (am missing about the last 30 degreees).

How long can I expect it to take before I can regain most of the mobility and how often have you been stretching / excercising per day? I would really like to be able to get back on the bike by March if possible.

Thanks for info in advance,

Bacon
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
two different injuries

BaconBrain said:
After breaking the radius at the other end (elbow) in October, I am still unable to completely straighten my arm. (am missing about the last 30 degreees).

How long can I expect it to take before I can regain most of the mobility and how often have you been stretching / excercising per day? I would really like to be able to get back on the bike by March if possible.

Thanks for info in advance,

Bacon
You've got a completely different injury than I have. Same bone, different ends. I hope you've been going to physical therapy where you live and are following their advice. I'm working on my wrist motion and you're working on your elbow. I'm not a doctor, just an injured mountain biker. The mobility in my wrist is about 95 percent in some directions to only maybe 70 percent in other directions. My PT person says that you have to work on your range of motion in the first six months after injury because after that it's too late. I can't tell you what exercises to do to help straighten your arm but go on that JAS website I listed above and see what they have to say. Good luck. And I was able to get on the bike about 10 times before the snows finally buried us here in Colorado. I've got clearance to lift in the gym, but I'm going real slow there. Finally have my right arm back, though.

I wear the JAS splint 3 times a day, 30 minutes each, plus I push and turn my wrist in all other directions all day when I think of it. I don't think I'm going to get my wrist to bend backwards like it did, ever. It just sort of dead ends about half way. But I'm still going to work on it daily till end of February. Other directions (turning thumb to the right and then to the left) took awhile and a lot of painful pushing to finally get that to 95 percent full range. I had to have guidance on how to properly stretch, though, I would have never done it correctly by myself. Who knows, maybe your arm will start straightening out with the proper painful stretching, but unless you're doing it correctly you're not giving yourself the proper chance for full recovery.
 

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Hope you are back up to 100% soon. That can be a bugger of an injury.

My mother managed a distal radius and ulna fracture when she was washing some lino at her place. She slipped, went over backwards and tried to break her fall by putting her hands out. A bunch of pins and 4 months later she is now starting rehab to regain the strength in her right wrist and hand...having seen what she went through, I can understand your pain.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I like your "Book of MTB Revelations"

Psycho Mike said:
Hope you are back up to 100% soon. That can be a bugger of an injury.

My mother managed a distal radius and ulna fracture when she was washing some lino at her place. She slipped, went over backwards and tried to break her fall by putting her hands out. A bunch of pins and 4 months later she is now starting rehab to regain the strength in her right wrist and hand...having seen what she went through, I can understand your pain.
Behold, he who wasn't even injured while riding--that's me! I remember how many times I've launched over the bars and landed, if only for a nanosecond, on my outstretched hands, bent all the way back only to then hurtle forward in a blur of arms and legs. I'd lay there for awhile, figure that was it, I've messed myself up now for sure, but except for lots of blood and scrapes I never broke anything riding. Then I fell off that freakin' ladder.

Now that I have broken my wrist I can picture your ma going backwards and how solid the hit was when she landed. And I can feel her pain, shock and anxiety. I bet she was right-handed, too. Everybody I spoke with said take the long view, like a year. Work on your range of motion bigtime (per the PT person's guidance) in the first six months and don't worry so much about the strength. Your muscles will disappear but are still there waiting for the pain to subside so you can at least use them, if not build them up right away.

Some people take the loss of their former lifestyle harder than others. I would imagine a mother with a family to take care of and all the attendant housekeeping duties could take the helplessness pretty hard. Tell her that she will be able to use her hand again, and her perspective at that point will be that being one and a half handed beats the crap out of being one handed! Pretty soon, even though her mobility might not be what it was, she will feel like she is two-handed again and I bet she'll never take the ability to do that lino for granted again.

I build houses but I'm the contractor so it was very important that I get to where I could turn my hand over enough to type on my keyboard, like I am now. I worked on that range of motion the most and thank god it came back. Now I'm thinking about the next time I launch OTB. Maybe I'll just ride real slow from now on. You gotta slow down sometime.
 

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You've got a completely different injury than I have. Same bone, different ends. I hope you've been going to physical therapy where you live and are following their advice. I'm working on my wrist motion and you're working on your elbow. I'm not a doctor, just an injured mountain biker.
Yeah, I am aware that you are not able to give me any truely qualified advice but sometimes I guess you just ask yourself the questions "Am I doing enough?" or "Am I expecting to much?" I find it difficult to find the right balance, especially when the results of the physical therapy are less than expected. :confused:
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
tough to tell when you've maxed out on range of motion

BaconBrain said:
Yeah, I am aware that you are not able to give me any truely qualified advice but sometimes I guess you just ask yourself the questions "Am I doing enough?" or "Am I expecting to much?" I find it difficult to find the right balance, especially when the results of the physical therapy are less than expected. :confused:
I'm feeling my way through this therapy thing myself. I know that by using the JAS device I've probably gotten gains I wouldn't have without it, but at this point it's only adding up to a few degrees more in range. Have you gone on the JAS website? I just tried to use the link above and it didn't work. Joint Active Systems is the name of the company. Google it to get to the website maybe. The continuous pressure is a different kind of therapy. When your muscles relax from the shock of the pressure you dial in more over a 30 minute session. I see you're in Germany. Hope you can get this website up to get the info they offer. Talk to your physical therapist about these devices. I didn't use one for my wrist turning motion, just my other hand forcing it towards each direction. You'll see specific elbow devices on that website. The time to get that range is NOW. I kept asking my PT lady if there was more I could be doing. Well, if she didn't know about the JAS devices she might have said no, but she would have been wrong. There does come a point, though, where there's no more range of motion to be had, at least for the moment. I talked to a guy who broke his wrist in a short track auto race 8 years ago and he said he finally got some more flexion in his wrist back in the last 2 years. Something about hard fill in between his wrist bones breaking down. Hope that happens for me.

You might try another PT person, see what their opinion is. I've had two. The hard facts are that sometimes it just doesn't work out like you'd like. It sucks, I know. But you can't stop trying to get back your range of motion. Like continuous therapy for the next year, even if just on your own. Don't get depressed about it just keep moving forward.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I just traded broken wrist stories with a guy in a shop

He did his DHing about 40 mph when he hit a "hidden" log. He said he continued to progress in his therapy for the first eight months. When I showed him my ROM he said wait till you see what's up at the 8 month point. Now he races DH like before. Got my fingers crossed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
post here if you haven't been able to contact JAS

BaconBrain said:
Yeah, I am aware that you are not able to give me any truely qualified advice but sometimes I guess you just ask yourself the questions "Am I doing enough?" or "Am I expecting to much?" I find it difficult to find the right balance, especially when the results of the physical therapy are less than expected. :confused:
Really, I don't work for this company. If you haven't been able to check out Joint Activation Systems let me know. I have an email address of someone to contact there. I'm going to wear their wrist device for the next couple of months to try to get more range of motion of my wrist. Any stretching I might do on my own can't possibly obtain the same results.
 

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I broke alot of bones in the past and I'm well past the age of healing quickly but, the only point I'll add to this good thread is try to resist the urge to do too much too quick it sets you back long term
 

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I have spoken with my physical therapist about it, but unfortunately it doesn't seem to be available here in Europe.

I guess that really the best thing to do is just to take it one step (or stretch) at a time and not to get to discouraged right away if things do not appear to improve. :nono:

A good book on effective methods of stretching would certainly be welcome though at this moment. Do you know of one?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
a couple of ideas for you

BaconBrain said:
I have spoken with my physical therapist about it, but unfortunately it doesn't seem to be available here in Europe.

I guess that really the best thing to do is just to take it one step (or stretch) at a time and not to get to discouraged right away if things do not appear to improve. :nono:

A good book on effective methods of stretching would certainly be welcome though at this moment. Do you know of one?
First off, have you actually gone onto the JAS website? I deal with them on occasion and last time I believe Jeanie gave me her email address there:

[email protected]

She just works there and has no PT advice to give you but can tell you or your doctor how to get the appropriate device, if that's even possible in Germany. They usually rent them to your insurance/doctor and they aren't cheap.

Second, start another thread on Rider Down. Title it "Broken Elbow--Need advice" or something like that to attract the attention of others in your condition. I know now I should have titled this thread "Broken Wrist--Need Advice" but, whatever.

Third, advice on how to stretch should be coming from your PT person and doctor. Don't ask me! Anything I learned how to do I got from them. Good luck.
 

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Stupid Softball

I broke the same bones, complete fracture of radius and ulna. Freaky looking near compound fracture. I was playing third base, ran after a pop fly in foul territory (sloping hill), caught ball, slipped down hill, karate chop backwards with softball in glove, and then the loud snapping sound of bones breaking.

I had the surgery (no pins or screws fortunately), cast for 6 weeks, and lots of work on arm afterwards.

Range of motion took a while to get back. I couldn't hold my hand out flat to receive change for a dollar. :D

Good luck with the wrist. Keep working on it and it will improve.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
how were you able to avoid pins?

Bob_Element50 said:
I broke the same bones, complete fracture of radius and ulna. Freaky looking near compound fracture. I was playing third base, ran after a pop fly in foul territory (sloping hill), caught ball, slipped down hill, karate chop backwards with softball in glove, and then the loud snapping sound of bones breaking.

I had the surgery (no pins or screws fortunately), cast for 6 weeks, and lots of work on arm afterwards.

Range of motion took a while to get back. I couldn't hold my hand out flat to receive change for a dollar. :D

Good luck with the wrist. Keep working on it and it will improve.
I didn't hear any sounds of bones snapping, just felt the incredible force of my palm hitting the concrete. My injury mushed the end of the radius back and up, deforming the very end. The surgery pulled the end back down into position and the plate held it there till it "healed". The end of the ulna was also cracked but wasn't deformed. The doc said there were bits and pieces all over in there. I try not to think of that image too much! Hard to believe you had both bones snap and avoided pins.

How long after surgery did you finally feel you could trust your hand/wrist like before? Or are you still working on that?
 

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Good as New

xcguy said:
I didn't hear any sounds of bones snapping, just felt the incredible force of my palm hitting the concrete. My injury mushed the end of the radius back and up, deforming the very end. The surgery pulled the end back down into position and the plate held it there till it "healed". The end of the ulna was also cracked but wasn't deformed. The doc said there were bits and pieces all over in there. I try not to think of that image too much! Hard to believe you had both bones snap and avoided pins.

How long after surgery did you finally feel you could trust your hand/wrist like before? Or are you still working on that?
I had clean breaks without any pieces. I was also told that there was a 50/50 chance that I might need the screws and plates. I had to get xrays twice after the initial surgery to make sure the bones didn't shift. I got lucky!

It took a while to trust the wrist again. Gradually, the ROM came back and the pain subsided. After a few months, I started weight lifting again and haven't had a problem since.

The break happened nearly 19 years ago. Every once in a while when the weather conditions are just right (damp and cold), the wrist will ache a bit.

Here's hoping for your speedy recovery. Good Luck...
 

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Interesting thread

I broke my radius at the distal end about 1" below the wrist on aug 6th. I got lucky in a sense in that it was only a partial break. It was a curving fracture that was heading from the thumb side towards the center of the articular surface, It stopped with less than a 1/4" of bone intact before it would have compromised the cartilage. I hit the ground at approx 20mph and was doing a shouler roll when my hand got stuck in a gopher hole...aside from the break I dislocated and messed up the tendons of both the thumb and the index finger
Hurt like crazy. My wife drove us over to my firestation where I grabbed a sam splint an an ace bandage then it was off to the hospital an the orthopedic surgeon.

I was fortunate in that I didn't need surgery for the bone but perhaps I should have had the tendons fixed. I was such a retard with my left hand, first time I tried to brush my teeth left handed the brush came out of my mouth and left a trail of toothpaste across my face
I got the cast off in 5 weeks...man was the arm atrophied I had limited flextion at the wrist and no thumb strength what so ever. I went full blast into pt with light weights, massage, flexion exercises as we we coming into the height of fire season. I mae it through the season and a ropes rescue plus an auto extrication course using mostly my left hand.

so after 6 months, 5 of which involved hard rehab I can finally sleep with out pain [first two months I screame every time I rolled over and the wrist flexed] the wrist is at 90% the thumb is at about 70% strenght an flexibility. I can do most of my favorite trails and I can just now ride my road bike with out the vibration causing extreme pain.

If anyone is looking for a really good rehab facillity in the San Jose area I would highly recommend the More Clinic on the Alameda just north of 880. they are used by the sharks, 49er, raiders, stanford and sjsu plus most of the local PD's an Fire Depts. their focus is on getting perfomance athletes back into competition.

work through the pain, keep at the rehab, stay positive and go for it
 
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