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.

What is a Distal Radius Fracture?

A distal radius fracture is when the radius (the larger bone in the forearm) is broken at the end of the bone by the wrist joint!

Most distal radius fractures, also known as wrist fractures, are caused by a fall onto an outstretched hand. As you extend your wrist to prevent your fall, when you land a large force is placed on the wrist causing it to break. Most wrist fractures occur with a slip and fall while trying to protect themselves.


These fractures can usually be treated conservatively with just a cast. Conservative (non-operative) treatment will usually consist of a cast and/or wrist brace for 4-6 weeks, depending on the break. With more severe breaks, a closed reduction may be attempted. A closed reduction is where a doctor will attempt to put the break back into normal alignment. Once adequate alignment is obtained, a cast will be applied to hold the bone into its restored position.  If the fracture is too severe and the alignment cannot be held appropriately, surgery can be discussed.

After conservative management or surgical management, a course of physical therapy is usually recommended. In physical therapy, exercises to regain motion and grip strength may be used to help you get your hand function back as quickly as possible. We tell all patients that the wrist may swell and be painful for up to 6-12 months after the initial break.

Our Comprehensive Hand Specialist and Occupational Therapy Team can help! Dr. Kyle Bohm and Dr. Anna Babushkina  promise prompt appointment scheduling and excellent care. Each physician works closely with our Certified Occupational Therapists, allowing their patients to receive complete hand care.

Trust your hand fracture with the experienced team at Mendelson Kornblum! Schedule your appointment now using our easy online scheduling!