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Distal Radius Fracture (Wrist Fractures)

Distal Radius Fracture: What You Need to Know

Distal radius fractures are one the most common types of bone fractures. These fractures occur at the end of radius bone near the wrist.

Falls on an outstretched or flexed hand are a main cause of distal radius fractures. However, they may also occur during trauma (ie..vehicle accident, biking, skiing, or other sports injury).

Distal radius fractures are classified based on the angle of the break, and are either "Colles" or "Smith."

Treatment for distal radius fractures varies depending on severity, but it is important to treat it immediately versus waiting. Treatment may include the use of a sling or cast, or could require surgery in the case of an unstable fracture.

What are the symptoms of a distal radius fracture?

  • Bruising

  • Swelling

  • Immediate pain with tenderness when touched

  • Deformity (the wrist appears to be in an odd position)

What is the treatment for a distal radius fracture?

Decisions on how to treat a distal radius fracture depend on a variety of factors, such as fracture displacement, comminution (being fractured in multiple places), joint involvement, associated ulna fracture or injury to the medial nerve.

Whatever the case, it is essential to treat it immediately. Usually, with th

e application of a splint for comfort and pain control. In the case of a displaced fracture, it will be reduced first (put back in to correct position) and then protected with a splint. Fracture reduction will be performed under local anesthesia to reduce the pain.

Nonoperative Treatment

If your distal radius fracture is in good position, a splint or plaster cast will be applied and used as a final treatment until the bone heals. Usually a cast will remain on for up to six weeks, followed by a removable wrist splint to wear for comfort and support. Physical therapy may then be used to regain proper wrist function and strength.

If you have suffered a displaced fracture, it will be corrected first, then after obtaining anatomic position of the fracture (anatomic alignment) a plaster cast will be applied. The reduction (closed reduction) will be performed with local anesthesia. Your orthopedic surgeon will evaluate the fracture and decide if you will need surgery or if the fracture can be treated with a plaster cast.

Operative Treatment

If your fracture is considered to be unstable or not suitable for nonoperative treatment, surgery may be recommended. If surgery is recommended, Dr. Sagini will provide you with an in-depth description of the type of surgery that is necessary, based on your injury.

If you have suffered a fracture or wrist injury, call Dr. Sagini's office for an appointment at (239) 337-2003.

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