(Fracture, Distal Radius; Distal Radius Fracture; Transverse Wrist Fracture; Dinner-Fork Deformity of the Wrist)
DefinitionA Colle's fracture is a break in the distal part of the radius bone. The radius is one of the bones of the forearm. The distal end of the bone is considered part of the wrist. Distal radius fractures are categorized by type:
- Open fracture—a broken bone that breaks through the skin
- Comminuted fracture—a bone that breaks into more than two pieces
- Intra-articular fracture—a broken bone within a joint
- Extra-articular fracture—a broken bone that does not involve the joint
|Intra-articular Colle's Fracture|
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CausesA distal radius fracture can be caused by:
- A fall on an outstretched hand
- A direct blow to the wrist
Risk FactorsFactors that can increase your risk of breaking your radius bone include:
- Severe trauma:
- Poor nutrition
- Conditions that increase the risk of falling include:
- Loss of agility or muscle strength
- Certain sports
- Increased age
- Decreased muscle mass
SymptomsSymptoms may include:
- Arm or wrist pain
- Severe pain with movement
- Trouble moving your wrist or arm
- Wrist appears out of line
DiagnosisYou will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Images will usually be taken of your wrist or arm. This can be done with an x-ray. After you are diagnosed, you may be referred to a specialist. An orthopedist focuses on bones.
TreatmentIt takes 6-10 weeks for a fracture of the radius at the wrist to heal. The type of treatment you receive depends on where your bone is broken and how serious the break is.Some fractures require a reduction. This means the doctor realigns the bones before healing begins. Reductions can be done by the doctor putting your bone fragments into position by moving your arm or through surgery.Your doctor may choose to treat the fracture using a cast. Your cast may be removed after a few weeks and replaced if it loosens. Most casts are removed at about six weeks.In other cases, a splint or a soft bandage may be used instead of a cast. Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you.
MedicationYour doctor may prescribe a pain medication or suggest an over-the-counter pain reliever.
SurgeryA distal radius fracture sometimes requires surgery. The surgeon first realigns the bones during an operation. Then, any of the following may be used to hold the bones together as they heal:
- A plate and screws
- An external device that holds the inside pins together
Physical TherapyYou may be referred to a physical therapist. Exercises will help you regain range of motion and strength.
PreventionTo help reduce your chance of fracturing your radius bone, take the following steps:
- Consider wearing a wrist guard when you play sports that put you at risk, such as in-line skating.
- Keep your muscles strong to prevent falls.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
The Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Distal radius fracture. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00412. Updated March 2013. Accessed September 23, 2014.
Distal radius fracture. DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated September 15, 2014. Accessed September 23, 2014.
5/6/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Kropman RH, Bemelman M, Segers MJ, Hammacher ER. Treatment of impacted greenstick forearm fractures in children using bandage or cast therapy: a prospective randomized trial. J Trauma. 2010;68(2):425-428.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 08/2014
- Update Date: 09/23/2014