Posted by: hagengreen | March 8, 2010

The state of the arm, 1 week later

Here’s a short follow-up to my last post about my cycling accident. First off, many thanks for the tremendous outpouring of support from friends and family. Especially Jaime. The numerous phone calls, visits, emails, Facebook messages, and flowers were so meaningful. You’ve put a smile on my face countless times over the last week and kept me strong. Without any of you, life would be much more difficult.

Here’s an update on the injuries and what’s next.

For the first part of this update, I’m typing this post with two hands. Sounds crazy, I know. But the cast allows for enough finger movement. Yes, the doc approved. As long as there’s no pain, it’s all good!

After the initial ER experience and visiting 2 docs and an orthopedist, I’ve learned I broke two bones clear through in my arm: the head of the radius and the scaphoid of the wrist. It appears both breaks are not displaced.

scaphoid fracture physical therapy

The scaphoid bone is a pebble-like bone. It’s the most commonly broken wrist bone as it takes the first bite of a palm-first fall. I’ve heard the hospitals see three times the number of these types of breaks during the height of snowboard season. If you break the scaphoid at its “head” (the part of the bone closest to the thumb), it heals in a matter of weeks thanks to the blood supply from the radial artery. Unfortunately if you break its “waist” or lower down, the blood supply is much less. Mine is broken at the waist. The natural recovery time for this kind of break is 6 months in a cast. That’s if everything goes well. Being in a cast for so long means my range of motion may be permanently limited when I finally get out. Thankfully, there’s another option available to non-head scaphoid breakers: surgery. It’s not something people like to hear, but trust me on this, it’s a great option in this case. The process goes roughly like this: a surgeon aligns the broken scaphoid and then tosses a screw into the bone to hold it all together. By forcing the joining of the bone fragments, the ample blood supply from the scaphoid head can get to the point of fracture with ease. Taking the surgical route cuts time in a cast from 6 months to less than 2 months. I’ll soon be setting off metal detectors at security checkpoints, but at least I can say I didn’t miss the summer of 2010 sitting in a cast. (That’s not counting rehab, either!)

The radial head fracture is a clean break. Amazingly, I was never put in a splint or cast. I was given an arm sling, but only used it for one day. I was told to get the swelling down as quickly as possible and, at the same time, work on my range of motion. My elbow, surprisingly, was never painful. It’s just been stiff with all the swelling from the broken bone but probably more directly due to the massive bruise from smacking cement with by body-weight behind it going 20+ mph.

I’ve been pent-up over the last week, so I couldn’t wait to get out for my first run which I attempted briefly on Sunday afternoon. It went surprisingly well. The tricky part was keeping the arm stable, but once I warmed up it didn’t seem to matter so much. I’m not feeling any pain the next day, and it even looks as if the swelling has gone done further. Can’t complain about that.

I met a store clerk last weekend who looked at my cast and asked if it was my scaphoid. We had a quick chat where I learned she was in a cast for a full six months. That’s way too long in my opinion. I can’t wait to get the surgery done so I can start getting back on two wheels.

Have a good week, and be safe out there.



  1. Hagen Hagen Hagen… you could be the first person I’ve seen walk down the aisle in a cast! The surgery could help you avoid that situation… and for your sake I hope so since it doesn’t go with Jaime’s dress! 😉 Get well soon!!! ❤

  2. Heh Sash! 🙂 if I can prevent walking down the aisle without a cast, I’ll do it at all costs. I’m so thankful there’s a better option! Next Wednesday is the lucky day. I’ll let you know what happens!

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