Distal Radius Fractures

Distal Radius Fractures

What is a Distal Radius Fracture?

A distal radius fracture happens when one of the two long arms bones (ulna and radius) breaks close to the wrist. Typically, these fractures happen approximately one inch from the end of the bone towards the wrist. The most common distal radius fracture is a Colles Fracture.

When a person falls with an outstretched hand, the tiny bones in the wrist connected to the radius (arm) bone are often fractured.  These types of falls or traumatic accidents often result in Colles fractures. Colles fractures are often referred to as distal fractures with dorsal angulation, which essentially means away from the body with upward angulation. This is because the impact of the injury causes the bones to fracture upward.

At Sforzo | Dillingham | Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine, We are dedicated to finding and treating the root cause of your condition, and we take great care to help you understand the specifics of your disorder, optimal treatment options, and necessary protocols to get you back to doing the things you enjoy and your essential daily activities.

Colles Fractures 

Severe blunt force can cause Colles fractures; for example, certain sports and activities are more commonly known to result in Colles fractures, such as martial arts, boxing, skiing accidents, pickleball and falling from a bike or horse. However, some individuals with smaller bones or osteoporosis often suffer from Colles fractures from a stumble and fall situation. The same holds true for children whose bones are still soft. Colles fractures can be quite painful and often cause bruising and swelling to occur rapidly.  

Types of Colles fractures include the following:

  • Intra-Articular Fracture—Wrist joint break 
  • Extra-Articular Fracture—Does not extend into the joint
  • Open Fracture—The bone is exposed through the skin
  • Comminuted Fracture—Multiple fractures within the bone

Common Causes and Risk Factors Associated with Colles Wrist Fractures

Colles fractures are very common in elderly patients that have brittle bones due to osteopenia or osteoporosis. These fractures are also common in children whose bones are softer. When these individuals fall with an outstretched hand, the bones in the wrist are more susceptible to fracture.

Treating a Colles Fracture  

Getting prompt treatment for a Colles fracture is essential. If left untreated, the pain and swelling can be overwhelming, and resetting the bone may be necessary. If you wait too long, these can be challenging to achieve optimally.

Home Care

Ice should be immediately applied when the fracture happens to reduce the pain and swelling. The ice can be applied with a towel or material to act as a barrier between the patient’s skin and the ice. A bag of frozen peas wrapped in a hand towel or pillow case works well if you have those items available in your home.

The arm should be elevated above the heart to reduce blood pooling and limit swelling. Make sure the ice is not too heavy on the wrist during elevation.

Taking over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help to reduce pain. 

Nonsurgical Treatment

In some cases, Colles fractures can be treated with a brace, splint, or cast. Physical therapy is always essential to properly stretch, strengthen and increase range of motion in the wrist, hand, and arm. Prescription pain medications may be prescribed if the pain is intolerable. Other alternative methods may help reduce inflammation and increase healing, such as PRP (platelet-rich plasma) therapy.

Surgery

With severe or complicated fractures, surgery will be advised. During surgery, the bones will be realigned and put back together with pins, plates, and screws. The surgery will correct the fractures, but the healing will take place over the next few weeks to months. A brace or cast will be applied to keep the wrist immobile and allow optimal recovery to take place. 

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy helps recondition the joints, muscles, and bones. Specific exercise and stretches will allow the area to regain strength, range of motion, stabilization, and mobility.

Today more than ever, Sforzo | Dillingham | Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine’s personalized level of care is their top priority. Therefore, they set a high standard of patient care for their in-house physical therapy department. The ability to communicate daily with their physical therapists and clinicians is ideal in orthopedic patient care.  Having the in-house physical therapy department allows the physicians to have insight and control over the advanced treatment their patients need and specifically design the best program for recovery. 

With decades of experience, at Sforzo | Dillingham | Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine all of our surgeons are board certified and fellowship trained. We offer you the best treatment options and care.

We provide excellent medical care in a warm, caring, comfortable environment, where patients are treated efficiently, effectively, and as if they were the only patient. Let us get you back in your game.

FAQ's

What is the treatment for Colles fracture?

The treatment for Colles fractures depends on the severity of the injury and the patient’s health. In minor fractures, a cast or brace may be used to immobilize the area and allow the bones to heal. With more severe breaks or complex cases, surgery may be necessary.

What is the difference between Colles fracture and Smith fracture?

Smith fractures typically occur in elderly women and are extra-articular. They do not extend to the wrist, whereas a Colles fracture is a broken wrist.

Are Colles fractures serious?

Yes, a Colles fracture is very painful and serious in nature. It’s important to seek immediate treatment.

What is a Pott's fracture?

A Pott’s fracture is in the ankle right above the heel. It is often related to jumping and landing wrong on the foot or ankle.

Focusing On You

As healthcare is ever changing, Sforzo | Dillingham | Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine, is doing things differently…

  • About Christopher R. Sforzo, M.D. Christopher R. Sforzo, M.D. is a board certified orthopedic surgeon and fellowship trained in hand and upper extremity surgery. He provides expert care in the treatment of problems involving the shoulder, arm, elbow, forearm, wrist and hand. He performs many procedures using mini
  • About Christopher L. Dillingham, M.D. Christopher L. Dillingham, M.D. is a board certified orthopedic surgeon and fellowship trained in hand, shoulder, and arm surgery. He specializes in the treatment of problems with rotator cuff disorders, carpal tunnel syndrome and nerve injury, joint replacement, arthritis sur
  • About Charles E. Stewart, M.D. Charles E. Stewart M.D. is a board-certified, Johns Hopkins fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon specializing in adult complex reconstruction of the lower extremity.  His specialties include lower extremity sports injuries, meniscal injuries, ACL reconstruction, partial knee replacement,
  • About Philip A. Meinhardt, M.D. Philip A. Meinhardt, M.D. is a board certified orthopedic surgeon and fellowship trained spine surgeon. He specializes in adult spinal surgeries including reconstruction of spinal deformities, minimally invasive/microscopic spinal procedures, decompression, spinal instrumentation, fusion

Testimonial

After tearing my rotator cuff, not only was I experiencing pain but my quality of life was diminished. Playing golf and working out were painful rather than enjoyable. Graci and I sought out Fellowship trained Dr. Christopher Sforzo and the team at Sforzo | Dillingham | Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine. I was treated non-surgically and am now pain free, mobile and enjoying everything I did before.

- Dennis and Graci McGillicuddy

As avid golfers and tennis enthusiasts, our rotator cuff injuries left us in pain, and unable to enjoy our sport. In researching for the most qualified surgeons, we found that Sforzo | Dillingham | Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine not only had the highest level of training and experience, but they were also highly recommended by friends and associates who had excellent results. We, too, had outstanding…

- Mike Wilton, Bud Polley and Arnie Vance

I was visiting the area looking at property and considering a full time re-location from Minnesota when I was in a traffic accident. The result was a very painful shoulder injury that would ultimately require bilateral RTC repairs. I was unable to undertake regular day-to-day activities or participate in my favorite sport – tennis. It was essential that I choose a shoulder specialist that could quickly set…

- Pat Cooper
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Over the years we had seen several orthopedists in town but were never impressed. They seemed to lack knowledge or compassion or both. Then when Liza was in high school, she went to Sforzo | Dillingham | Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine for a minor sports injury. They not only diagnosed her somewhat obscure problem, but explained things in a way that she understood without being patronizing…

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As a very busy business owner in Sarasota, having not one, but two, massive rotator cuff tears had a debilitating effect on both my personal and professional life. From my first consultation with Sforzo | Dillingham | Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine, I knew I was in good hands. The surgeons are board-certified and fellowship-trained, which gave me the confidence in achieving a successful outcome. More importantly,…

- Bob Kirschner

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