When she fell hard after whiffing on a ball during club soccer practice, 14-year-old Arianna P. nearly laughed out loud through the pain. “Here we go again,” she said to her mother in the hospital room. She’d managed to break her wrist for the second time. Deep down, she knew this time would be different.
That old injury had been straightforward to treat, and quick to heal. This one would prove otherwise. More than a year later, even after a series of casts and occupational therapy, something still wasn’t right with Arianna’s wrist — and even Arianna, with her ready sense of humor, was no longer laughing it off.
“I always felt some type of constant pain,” she says. “When doing simple things like picking up my backpack, or grabbing a water bottle, the pain increased.”
Through advanced imaging, Connecticut Children’s Division of Orthopedics discovered why. The bone had healed at an awkward angle in one spot, and not healed at all in another. Arianna needed surgery — both to relieve the pain now, and to prevent arthritis in the future...
“You use your wrist for everything,” says Arianna’s mom, Ann. “I would hate it if Arianna was 40 years old and couldn’t pick up her child because of arthritis.”
“I was glad that there was still an option to fix it,” agrees Arianna. “If nothing else worked, surgery was truly the last resort option. And nothing else worked.”
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At what age do bones stop growing?
Our bones continue growing through our mid-20s — so any surgery needs to work around, and with, these growing bones. An approach that’s generally used for an adult may not be right for a young person.
Meanwhile, Connecticut Children’s pediatric medicine experts, technology and techniques are dedicated to children and young people.
The orthopedics team includes experts like Sonia Chaudhry, MD, FACS, who specializes in hand and wrist surgery.
When Dr. Chaudhry sat down with Arianna and Ann to explain the procedure she had in mind, Arianna was eager to be leveled with.
“Dr. Chaudhry was very down-to-earth and real about it,” Arianna remembers. “She’s very nice and calming too.”
“Dr. Chaudhry was great. She combined the medical piece with the human piece,” says Ann. “She’d say, ‘This is what I would do, but it’s up to you.’ I’m such a question asker, and she was so patient with me.”
Arianna has been playing soccer since she was 5 years old, and couldn’t fathom missing the ongoing season. So they planned the surgery for May: towards the end of the premiere season, with a few months to heal before the high school season began.
On the day of surgery, Ann was able to stay with Arianna right up until the surgery began. Then, she stayed glued to the EASE app. Every half hour, the surgical team sent an update: Dr. Chaudhry had successfully reset Arianna’s wrist bone. She’d fixed a plate to the bone. She’d stabilized the wrist ligaments.
Everything about the complicated procedure went off without a hitch. While Arianna was still drowsy, she ask every five minutes if she could play soccer.
“As a parent you’re always worried about who has your child’s life in their hands. Literally, that’s what I was thinking during surgery,” says Ann. “But all along the way, the whole staff made it so personal. The whole process, right from the doctor’s office through surgery, was fantastic.”
How long after wrist surgery can you play soccer?
It’s been about a year since Arianna’s wrist surgery. She no longer experiences lingering pain. Her scar is barely noticeable. Now a sophomore, she’s as aggressive as ever on the soccer field.
“I play even harder now, because if I break my wrist, I know there’s a solution,” Arianna teases. Ann shakes her head and cracks a smile.
“I still shudder when I see her fall,” Ann admits. “I automatically say, ‘Your wrist!’ It’s involuntary. I laugh after.”
If another young athlete is facing a similar procedure at Connecticut Children’s, Arianna has words of encouragement — delivered with her typical directness: “Don’t panic about what’s going to happen. There will be a good outcome. Also, you are in great and trustworthy hands.”
“I’m grateful that Arianna’s healed, and that we prevented issues in her future,” says Ann. “Connecticut Children’s was awesome. I truly could not have asked for a better staff or a better experience.”