What Is an Ulnar Styloid Fracture?

Ulna and Radius are two main bones in the forearm. Ulna runs along the outside of the wrist and Radius runs along the inside. A bony projection at the end of the ulna is called the ulnar styloid process.

It fits into the cartilage of the wrist joint and plays an important role in the strength and flexibility of the wrist and forearm. A break of the bone in this area is called an ulnar styloid fracture.

The Symptoms of Fracture:

The main symptom of an ulnar styloid fracture is immediate pain. This type of fracture is usually accompanied by a radius fracture. In such a case, the pain is felt more on the inside of the wrist than near the ulnar styloid process.

Additional symptoms include:

  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Bruising

One may also notice the wrist and hand hanging at a different angle than the usual configuration.

Causes:

Hand and wrist fractures (the latter is basically an ulnar styloid fracture) are mostly caused by an injury sustained while trying to break a fall with an outstretched arm.

Other common causes include:

Further, osteoporotic conditions can also increase the risk of fractures. Such a condition weakens the bones and makes them brittle. One needs to take extra precautions to avoid bone injuries.

Treatment

Options to treat broken bones include both with and without surgery.

Nonsurgical treatment

Mild ulnar styloid fractures often need a basic wrist cast. The doctor may have to realign bones before adding a cast. This process is called reduction and can sometimes be done without an incision (closed reduction).

Surgical treatment

For severe fractures, which may also involve other nearby bones, one would require surgery. This involves an open reduction: The doctor makes an incision near the fracture and uses the opening to reset the affected bones. Severe breaks may require using metal orthopedic bone screws or pins to keep the bones in place while they heal.

Following an open reduction, a durable cast is needed, which may be made from plaster or fiberglass.