So you had a FOOSH? Sounds like such a fun word but in reality a FOOSH (Fall On OutStretched Hand) is anything but fun. Many things can cause this type of injury but this time of year the ice often leads to the dreaded slip and fall. In spite of being careful when outside, it is easy to get surprised by that hidden ice. Regardless of what causes your fall, you may end up with a broken bone, usually the radius, one of the long forearm bones. Depending on the severity of the break you may need surgery. The good news is that the outcomes from these injuries are usually quite good. Whether you need surgery or not, you will be immobilized for a period of time in a cast, a custom orthotic made by a hand therapist or a splint. During this phase of recovery, it may seem there is nothing to do but wait, however this is the time when it is most important to pay attention to your fingers and keep them moving. Often the fingers become very swollen making it difficult to move, but gentle movement and light massage will help decrease the edema (swelling) and make you more mobile and more comfortable. Simple exercises like the ones shown below can help make your recovery after the immobilization much easier.
If you find your cast or splint is causing you pain, be sure to contact your doctor or therapist, as there are ways to make you more comfortable during this sometimes frustrating phase. If you are having a lot of difficulty moving your fingers in your cast, a few sessions with therapy may be helpful in teaching you how to move and keep the swelling down. Once your fracture is stable enough to move, hand therapy can help you regain your wrist range of motion and strength so you may get back to your favorite activities.