Predictors of wrist function and health status after operative treatment of fractures of the distal radius

John-Sebastiaan Souer, Santiago A Lozano-Calderon, David Ring
Journal of Hand Surgery 2008, 33 (2): 157-163

PURPOSE: To identify the most important determinants of physician-based and patient-based scoring systems for the wrist and upper extremity after operative treatment of a fracture of the distal radius, with the hypothesis that pain is the strongest determinant of both types of scores.

METHODS: Eighty-four patients were evaluated a minimum of 6 months after operative fixation of an unstable distal radius fracture using 2 physician-based evaluation instruments (the Mayo Wrist Score and the Gartland and Werley Score) and an upper extremity-specific health status questionnaire (Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand; DASH). Multivariate analysis of variance and multiple linear regression modeling were used to identify the degree to which various factors affect variability in the scores derived with these measures.

RESULTS: The physician-based scoring systems showed moderate correlation with each other and with DASH scores. The results of multiple linear regression modeling were as follows (percent variability accounted for by the best fit model/model with top factor alone): Mayo: 54% grip and flexion arc/47% grip alone; Gartland and Werley: 70% pain, flexion arc, radiocarpal arthritis, and duration of follow-up/53% pain alone; DASH: 71% pain, forearm arc, and type of fracture/65% pain alone.

CONCLUSIONS: At early follow-up, pain dominates the patient's perception of function after recovery from an operatively treated distal radius fracture as measured by the DASH score and the physician-based rating according to the system of Gartland and Werley. The Mayo Wrist Score is determined primarily by grip strength rather than pain. Because perception of pain and strength of grip have been shown to be influenced by psychosocial factors in some individuals, both patient-based and physician-based measures of wrist function may be vulnerable to illness behavior.


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