Synergy Health Partners

Distal Radius Fractures

Definition: A distal radius fracture is a break in the radius bone near the wrist. The radius is one of the two large bones in the forearm, and fractures of this type are among the most common fractures in adults, particularly resulting from falls.


  • Falls: Falling onto an outstretched hand is the most common cause.
  • Trauma: Direct impact to the wrist from sports injuries, car accidents, or other high-impact activities.
  • Osteoporosis: Weakened bones from osteoporosis can fracture more easily from minor trauma.


  • Immediate pain and tenderness at the wrist
  • Swelling and bruising
  • Visible deformity or crooked appearance of the wrist
  • Difficulty or inability to move the wrist or hand
  • Numbness or tingling if nerves are affected


  • Physical Examination: Assessing pain, swelling, deformity, and range of motion.
  • Imaging Tests: X-rays to confirm the fracture and determine its type and severity; CT scans or MRI for more detailed evaluation if needed.

Types of Distal Radius Fractures:

  1. Colles’ Fracture: The most common type, where the broken end of the radius tilts upward.
  2. Smith’s Fracture: The broken end of the radius tilts downward.
  3. Barton’s Fracture: Involves a dislocation of the wrist along with the fracture.
  4. Intra-articular Fracture: The fracture extends into the wrist joint.
  5. Extra-articular Fracture: The fracture does not extend into the joint.


  1. Non-Surgical Treatments:

    • Immobilization: Using a cast or splint to keep the bone in place while it heals, typically for 6-8 weeks.
    • Reduction: Manipulating the bone back into its correct position if it is displaced, usually done under local or general anesthesia.
    • Medications: Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs to manage pain and swelling.
  2. Surgical Treatments:

    • Internal Fixation: Using metal plates, screws, or pins to stabilize the bone.
    • External Fixation: Using an external frame to hold the bones in the correct position.
    • Percutaneous Pinning: Using pins inserted through the skin to hold the bone fragments together.


  • Physical Therapy: Exercises to restore strength, flexibility, and range of motion in the wrist and hand.
  • Occupational Therapy: Techniques and adaptive devices to aid in daily activities and improve hand function.

Prognosis: With proper treatment, most distal radius fractures heal well, although recovery time can vary depending on the severity of the fracture and the patient’s age and overall health. Early intervention and appropriate immobilization are crucial to ensure optimal healing and prevent complications such as stiffness, loss of motion, or arthritis. Adhering to rehabilitation exercises and follow-up care is essential for regaining full function and strength in the wrist and hand.