Distal Radius Fracture
There are two types of distal radius fractures. A Colles fracture is most common and occurs when the palm experiences a direct impact such as falling on the hand to break a fall. In a Colles fracture, the wrist breaks away from the center of the radius at an upward angle. A Smith fracture is less common and affects the back of the wrist. It tends to occur from falling on a bent wrist. In a Smith fracture, the wrist breaks down toward the palm side of the hand.
Distal radius fractures are often very painful and result in swelling and tenderness at the wrist. The wrist will often appear to be deformed or in an unusual position. Some numbness and tingling in the fingers is also possible.
Distal radius fractures are diagnosed by a physician in an exam. X-rays are also required to confirm the diagnosis and to determine the angle and severity of the break.
Treatment of distal radius fractures varies depending on if the break is clean or severe. Simple fractures can be treated without surgery in a splint or cast until the bone heals. Physical therapy will also be used to regain wrist mobility and strength. Surgery may be required if the fracture is unstable and cannot be realigned with a cast.