Broken Plated Wrist – Plate Removal

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  • Broken Plated Wrist – Plate Removal
  • -m-

    Sounds depressingly familiar. I had my left wrist plated 10 years ago after getting knocked off my motorbike. I went through regular 'review' appointments at my local hospital. Every one of them concluded with "it all seems to be progressing OK. Make another appointment for 3 months time and we'll make a decision on taking the plate out".

    After 4 of these appointments I put them on the spot and asked them who was actually going to make a decision about if the plate was going to be removed the plate and when. The bloke disappeared for 10 minutes, then walked back into the room and (no joke) said "would you like the plate to be removed?"

    At that point I gave up and called on my work medical insurance. I had an extended appointment at a local private hospital…with the actual bloke that had inserted the plate on the NHS… He took X-rays, talked it all through, highlighted the risks of the removal procedure, but balanced this with the risk of the points of the screws protruding through to the surface of the joint as I got older. Given I was relatively 'active' he (shock horror) recommended removal.

    I'm sufficiently cynical to recognise that it was in his interests to remove it privately, but I felt that I was receiving informed and justified advice that I never received on the NHS. I'm not saying this was right, but for me it made the decision easier (and not just one that I was making as a layman).

    My plate eventually came out 18 months after it had gone in. I didn't particularly have problems before it was removed (except irritation of the scar area). I get the same thing now, so no better/worse for me.

    Good luck with yours…


    This is something I've been wrestling with for years. I've got a plated radius and ulna as well as a plate in my ankle (two seperate crashes) all of which give me pain in varying degress almost all the time.

    I've been back to the GP a number of times for a referal to the fracture clinic, one GP poo-poo'd the idea saying it was not possible and the other wanted to make the diagnosis himself because quote, "it's more interesting than the normal cases he gets" 🙄 Neither of which filled me with confidence.

    Then after a chance meeting with a specialist in the pub I got some impartial advice. He said that it could be done relatively easily however there is an increased risk of further breakage until the holes fill in plus there's an increased risk of nerve damage.

    That was nearly a year ago and I still haven't decided whether I want to take the risk or put up with the pain.


    I broke my wrist 4 years ago and had it plated. They said at the time that long term screws etc may cause irritation on tendons and cause trouble and may have to come out. When I ride my bike or use my wrist a lot (ho ho) I get some serious aching.

    I went to see the consultant at the hospital (the same one that did the operation as it happened) and he advised that removing the metal work would stop a large amount of the discomfort. However he also said it is the most complex area in the human body to remove plates from, and can be risky.

    So he said "are you definitely sure you want to do this?". We I thought I was, what do you suggest? "Well the easiest thing to do would to have not broken your wrist in the first place, its not my place to advise you". Great.

    So has anyone been in the same position? Did you have them out? Was it ok? Did it feel a lot better afterwards?


    I think put up with it. Have had a few ops recently, my elbow is shagged after breaking it at D2D 2 years ago. Problem made worse because I carried on racing.Then tore the tendon when the cast came off. Then tore the triceps after that. Hurts constantly now.
    Had my wrist plated after having correctional surgery following a bad break. Doesn't feel too bad. Point is that any surgery you have causes scar tissue etc, and things just don't go back to normal when they've healed.


    I think I would tend to err on having the metalwork removed – however it is not risk free by any means. More surgery more scar tissue more rehabilitation afterwards.

    So I think its a decision that only the person themselves can make – 'cos its a fairly balanced risk / benefit question and only you know how much the metalwork is interfering now. Hopefully your doc gives some indication of likely risks and benefits.

    There is no one right answer


    Same boat, broke my left ulnar and radius just above the wrist in 2002 and still plays up now

    Have decided to leave both plates in as that's what I was advised to do by the consultant


    Slightly different here, in that it was my shin/knee, but had a big plate and 7 screws in it. Did it skiing and the docs said don't go again until the plate is out in about 18 months!

    So, rather than listen to them, I listened to the lovely lady who plastered my leg a couple of weeks after the Op, she said if you want to get back skiing quickly, tell them it's ittitating you and they'll take it out sooner!

    So, did this, out after a year and everything is fine, did miss one season though! I couldn't kneel with it in, but it's almost normal now when I do.

    Ive got plates in both of my arms on both the radius and ulna and have had them in for about 11 years now.

    I was advised against removing the plate on my left radius as i suffered nerve damage when i broke my arm and removal of the plate could bring it back, its perfect now. However i did go for the decision to remove both the plates on my left and right ulnas, the right ulan plate got removed fine but they couldnt find the left ulna plate as it was buried by bone that had grown over it, they said it was to dangerous to remove when buired by this much bone. So dont leave it to long or your be stuck with it.

    So ive still got 3 plates in my arms and they dont really give my any bother at all, except when i smack my arm agaisnt something just in the right place, i sure know about it then! Its not something that bothers me, the scars are what remind me that they are still in there.


    I have plates and screws and bolts around the top of my right femur and through the ball joint at my hip.. they have been in place for 14 years.. I was experiencing some difficulty during a very inactive phase about 11 years ago and discussed removal but the docs said to leave the stuff there as although the metalwork had served it's purpose it would be a trauma to the bone and joint to remove it and the area is much stronger with it than a healthy uninjured joint.
    So I left it as it is and have suffered on occasion over the years to the point where my back is pretty sore these days as a result of shifting my weight away from the painful hip joint!!
    but with time and increased fitness levels the pain is now managable as long as I am careful about posture and religiously adhere to a certain exercise regime..

    SO… not a great deal of clarity to be gained here… and not exactly positive but my advice would be not to rest until you reach a satisfactory conclusion..
    don't take no for an answer and accept no fobbing off.. take private advice if at all possible..
    Physiotherapy is absolutely crucial and cannot under any circumstances be skimped..
    good luck

    Premier Icon Flaperon

    I have a plate in my wrist with screws that caused similar discomfort (had it six years now), and was seriously considering having it removed. However, about a year ago I bought a Powerball and used it every day for about 15 minutes. Within about 2 months all the pain had gone.

    No problems now cycling or climbing.

    Not insignificant risk of nerve damage with plate removal (consultant seemed surprised that I had no nerve damage from the original operation), and the wrist will be weak for a couple of months afterwards along with a much more unsightly scar. It's not a light decision.

    Premier Icon santacruzsi

    I broke my wrist 10 years ago in a climbing accident, got 2 plates and 6 pins and they're still in. Consultant chappie said I could have them removed but they've give me no grief so i think best not to disturb them. Plus my 2" scar is just about going down and I don't want another, nor do I want time off work or time off the bike! I have a bit of discomfort once every blue moon with the cold weather but thats it, and it doesn't move as much as the other one but I more than get by! I can still do everything I used too, including Climbing which the consultant said I'd never do again! Up Yours consultant!

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