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Colles' Fracture

(Fracture, Distal Radius; Distal Radius Fracture; Transverse Wrist Fracture; Dinner-Fork Deformity of the Wrist)

Definition

A 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:
Intra-articular Colle's Fracture
Colle's Fracture
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
This sheet focuses on fracture of the distal radius. Fractures of other wrist bones can be found on a separate sheet.

Causes

A distal radius fracture can be caused by:

Risk Factors

Factors that can increase your risk of breaking your radius bone include:

Symptoms

Symptoms may include:

Diagnosis

You 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.

Treatment

It 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.

Medication

Your doctor may prescribe a pain medication or suggest an over-the-counter pain reliever.

Surgery

A 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
  • Pins
  • An external device that holds the inside pins together
You may be given a splint to wear after surgery to keep your arm from moving too much.

Physical Therapy

You may be referred to a physical therapist. Exercises will help you regain range of motion and strength.

Prevention

To help reduce your chance of fracturing your radius bone, take the following steps:

RESOURCES

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons http://orthoinfo.aaos.org

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians http://familydoctor.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES

The Canadian Orthopaedic Association http://www.coa-aco.org

Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation http://www.canorth.org

References

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.

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