Background: Distal radius fractures are common, and the trend in fixation has included the use of locked volar plating. The duration of splinting required after surgery and the effect splinting has upon outcome of the wrist are not clear. Our aim was to compare outcome of patients treated with early versus late motion protocol after volar plating. Methods: Thirty-three patients with distal radius fractures were prospectively and randomly enrolled into an early versus late motion study including volar plating of the distal radius fracture. Early motion included an active and passive wrist motion protocol by 14 days after surgery and delayed motion was initiated at 5 weeks. Fractures were defined as intra-articular and extra-articular, and those with, and without, ulnar styloid fracture. Motion and outcome scores (Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand [DASH]/patient-rated wrist evaluation [PRWE]), and strength were measured through 1 year. Results: Wrist motion, DASH, and PRWE scores were only significantly different at 6 weeks with no significant differences at any later time points up to 1 year. One patient had complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) and one had adhesive capsulitis in the late motion group. Conclusions: Following locked volar plating of distal radius fractures, early motion favored earlier return of motion along with lower DASH, PRWE, and pain scores within first 6 weeks. Although the late motion group had delayed recovery, there were no long-term significant differences in motion, strength, outcome, or pain scores. The 2 cases with complications (CRPS and adhesive capsulitis) did occur in the late motion group and may implicate late motion with these problems.
- distal radius fractures
- volar plating
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine