Patricia Griffin Kellicker, BSN
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:
This sheet focuses on fracture of the distal radius. Fractures of other
can be found on a separate sheet.
A distal radius fracture can be caused by:
Factors that can increase your risk of breaking your radius bone include:
Symptoms may include:
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
After you are diagnosed, you may be referred to a specialist. An orthopedist focuses on bones.
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.
Your doctor may prescribe a pain medication or suggest an over-the-counter pain reliever.
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:
You may be given a splint to wear after surgery to keep your arm from moving too much.
You may be referred to a physical therapist. Exercises will help you regain range of motion and strength.
To help reduce your chance of fracturing your radius bone:
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
The Canadian Orthopaedic Association
When it Hurts to Move—Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Distal radius fracture. Ortho Info—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-emergency management. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:
http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T902859/Distal-radius-fracture-emergency-management. Updated Accessed September 29, 2016.
5/6/2010 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T902859/Distal-radius-fracture-emergency-management: 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.
Last reviewed September 2016 by Michael Woods, MD
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