Exercises for Hand and Fingers After a Broken Wrist

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It is important to exercise you hand and fingers after breaking them in order to help promote healing.
Image Credit: Biserka Stojanovic/iStock/GettyImages

A broken wrist is a surprisingly common injury. According to a study published in October-December 2014 by Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, up to 20 percent of bone fractures treated in the emergency department affect the radius — a large bone in the wrist.

You might notice stiff fingers after a broken wrist, particularly if you spend time in a cast, as explained in a case study published in October 2016 by Manual Therapy, Posturology & Rehabilitation Journal. Exercises are performed to improve movement and strength in your hand and fingers after a wrist fracture.

Stop exercising and consult your doctor or physical therapist if you experience pain with hand or finger exercises after a broken wrist. Follow your physical therapist's instructions for specific exercises and repetitions for the best outcome.

Read more: Normal Range of Motion of the Wrist

1. Finger Exercises

Finger exercises, called tendon-gliding exercises, improve your ability to make a fist after a broken wrist. These exercises can often be performed while your wrist is still in a cast.

  1. Begin with your fingers straight.
  2. Form a hook fist: bend the small knuckles in your fingers while keeping your largest knuckles straight.
  3. Straighten your fingers.
  4. Perform the table top fist: bend the large knuckles at the base of your fingers while keeping the small knuckles in your fingers straight.
  5. Straighten your fingers.
  6. Make a flat fist: bend your large and middle knuckles while keeping the knuckles at the tip of your fingers straight.
  7. Straighten your fingers.
  8. Form a full fist: bend all of your knuckles, tucking your fingers into your palm.
  9. Repeat 10 times.

2. Thumb Exercises

Include thumb exercises in your routine of hand exercises after cast removal.

  1. Lift your thumb up as if you are hitchhiking.
  2. Bend your thumb out to the side as if you are grabbing a cup.
  3. Touch the tip of your thumb to the tip of each finger.
  4. Bend your thumb toward the base of your pinky finger.
  5. Repeat 10 times.

3. Wrist Exercises

While stiff fingers after a wrist fracture might occur, wrist stiffness almost always occurs after this injury. Once your cast has been removed, your physical therapist will give you specific exercises to reduce this stiffness.

Hold each position for three to five seconds and repeat 10 times.

  1. Bend your wrist forward and backward.
  2. Tip your wrist from side to side.
  3. Keeping your elbow by your side, rotate your forearm into a palm up and palm down position.

Read more: 3 Gentle Exercises for Nagging Wrist Pain

4. Finger Strengthening

Strengthening exercises can help with stiffness in your hand after a wrist fracture. These exercises are performed once your bone has healed. In general, exercises begin about six weeks after a broken wrist, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Move 1: Grip Strengthening

  1. Squeeze a small ball or putty.
  2. Repeat for two minutes, several times per day.

Move 2: Finger Extension

  1. Wrap a rubber band around your fingers and thumb.
  2. Pull your fingers apart, against the resistance of the rubber band.
  3. Slowly bring your fingers back together.
  4. Repeat 10 times.

Is This an Emergency?

To reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 infections, it is best to call your doctor before leaving the house if you are experiencing a high fever, shortness of breath or another, more serious symptom.
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