A Colles 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:
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This sheet focuses on fracture of the distal radius. Fractures of other wrist bones 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 the wrist or arm. This can be done with an x-ray.
You may be referred to a specialist. An orthopedist focuses on bones.
Proper treatment can prevent long-term complications or problems with your wrist. Treatment will depend on how serious the fracture is, but may include:
A cast, splint, or sling may needed to protect, support, and keep your wrist in line while it heals.
Some fractures cause pieces of bone to separate. These pieces will need to be put back into their proper place. This may be done:
Prescription or over-the-counter medications may be given to help reduce inflammation and pain.
Medications may include acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Check with your doctor before taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen or aspirin.
Healing time varies by age and your overall health. In general, it takes up to 6-10 weeks to heal.
Physical therapy or rehabilitation therapy will be used to improve range of motion and strengthen the wrist.
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 August 30, 2017.
Distal radius fracture-emergency management. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T902859/Distal-radius-fracture-emergency-management. Accessed August 30, 2017.
5/6/2010 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttp://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 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM Last Updated: 9/23/2014