A triquetral fracture is a break in the three-sided bone in your outer wrist. It’s the most commonly injured bone in the wrist. Triquetral fractures often occur when you use your hand to catch yourself during a fall.

Of the eight small bones (carpals) in your wrist, the triquetrum is one of the most commonly injured. It’s a three-sided bone in your outer wrist. All of your carpal bones, including the triquetrum, lie in two rows between your forearm and hand.

Read on to learn more about triquetral fractures, including how they’re treated and how long they take to heal.

The main symptoms of a triquetral fracture are pain and tenderness in your wrist. You might feel additional pain when you:

  • make a fist
  • grip something
  • bend your wrist

Other possible symptoms of a triquetral fracture include:

  • swelling
  • bruising
  • your hand or finger hanging at an unusual angle

In addition, a triquetral fracture can sometimes cause the dislocation of another bone in your wrist. If this bone presses on a nerve, you might feel tingling or numbness in your fingers as well.

Many wrist fractures, including triquetral fractures, happen when you try to break a fall by putting your arm out. When your hand or wrist hits the ground, the force of the fall can fracture one or more bones.

Any kind of traumatic injury from a car accident or other forceful impact can also cause a triquetral fracture. In addition, sports that often involve falling or high-impact contact, such as inline skating or football, can also increase your risk.

Having osteoporosis, which results in weakened bones, can also significantly increase your risk of developing any kind of fracture, including a triquetral fracture.

To diagnose a triquetral fracture, your doctor will start by examining your wrist. They’ll gently feel for any signs of a broken bone or damaged ligament. They might also move your wrist a bit to narrow down the location of the injury.

Next, they’ll likely order an X-ray of your hand and wrist. On the image, a triquetral fracture will look like a small chip of bone has separated from the back of your triquetrum.

However, triquetral fractures are sometimes hard to see, even on an X-ray. If an X-ray doesn’t show anything, you doctor might order a CT scan. This shows a cross section of the bones and muscles in your hand and wrist.

Mild triquetral fractures usually don’t require surgery. Instead, your doctor will likely perform a procedure called a reduction. This involves gently moving your bones into their proper place without making an incision. While this is less invasive than surgery, it can be painful. Your doctor may give you some local anesthesia before the procedure.

If you have a more severe triquetral fracture, you may need surgery to:

  • remove loose bone fragments
  • repair damaged ligaments and nerves
  • repair severely broken bones, usually with pins or screws

Whether you have a reduction or surgery, you’ll likely need to keep your wrist immobilized for at least a few weeks while your bones and any ligaments heal.

In general, wrist fractures take at least a month to heal. While mild fractures can heal within a month or two, more serious ones can take up to a year to fully heal.

To speed up the healing process, try to avoid putting pressure on your wrist whenever possible. In addition, your doctor might recommend physical therapy to help you regain strength and range of motion in your wrist.

A triquetral fracture is a common type of wrist injury. Depending on the severity of the fracture, you’ll need anywhere from a month to a year to heal. While many make a full recovery, some notice lingering stiffness in their hand or wrist.