St. Louis Cardinals fans who watched first baseman and slugger Albert Pujols walk off the field in pain Sunday after a Kansas City Royals player collided into his left arm may be wondering what his injury — a non-displaced fracture of his left distal radius bone — may mean for No. 5 and his team.
Thankfully, if Pujols’ left wrist heals as it typically does in most other similar cases, he’ll indeed be back on the field within four to six weeks.
Brett Wolters, MD, an orthopedic surgeon with the Orthopedic Group at Springfield Clinic and Memorial SportsCare, said a distal radius fracture is one of the most common fractures he sees in young athletes and is typically caused by falling on an outstretched hand or a direct blow to the affected area.
“A non-displaced fracture is like a hairline fracture, which means the bones are aligned perfectly but there’s a small crack in the bone,” he said. “This is good, because it means the fracture should heal faster and not require surgery.”
Typically, athletes wear a cast or movable splint for four to six weeks to allow the bone to heal before gradually returning to normal activities. The injury isn’t very painful, Wolters said, and depending on Pujols’ ability to tolerate pain and evidence of healing via X-ray imaging, he assumes Pujols should indeed be able to return to play within six weeks.
“Fortunately it’s his glove hand, so it shouldn’t affect him too badly for fielding,” Wolters said. “But for him to hit, it may take awhile to build strength back from his left arm being immobilized and to hit comfortably without pain.”
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