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Distal Radius and Hand Fractures

The radius, a bone near the thumb, can fracture, resulting in a distal radius fracture. This type of break occurs closer to the wrist and can be classified according to the angle of the damage done to the bone.

A distal radius fracture is either (i) a Colles fracture or (ii) a Smith fracture depending on the angle to which the damage was done. A Colles fracture occurs when the palm sustains the most impact. This type of fracture typically occurs when landing on the palm after a fall. As a result, the palm lands flat on the ground, similar to a fork bending forward. In addition, a noticeable bump forms in the wrist as the distal radius pokes upward.

A Smith fracture occurs due to a direct blow at the back of the wrist. As a result, the tip of the distal radius moves closer to the palm. The wrist drops due to the nature of the fracture.

Treatment for a distal radius fracture depends on whether the bone is displaced or non-displaced and whether the fracture affects the movement of the joint. Management of the fracture involves applying a splint to control pain and stabilise that point to prevent unnecessary motion, which in the process delays fracture healing.

Fractures of the hand and distal radius occur when the bones near the wrist are broken. These are relatively common injuries and can occur as a result of trauma, such as a fall that is broken by an outstretched arm. A distal radius fracture may be splinted with a cast after the bones have been straightened. However, surgery may be recommended if the fracture is severe and the bones are displaced. In this case, I will perform an open reduction procedure, which involves the realignment of the bone fragments before they are held in place with an anatomically contoured plate and screws.


Pain close to the wrist, tenderness around the area and a bent wrist are common signs of a distal radius fracture.

Not necessarily. A distal radius fracture may be immobilised using a splint or cast. However, if the extent of the fracture is severe, surgical repair using plates and metal implants are required.

It takes six weeks for the bone to heal completely, but sometimes, it may take even longer, depending on the severity of the fracture. It can take a few months to regain full strength and mobility.


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