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Colles Fracture

What is a Colles fracture?

A Colles fracture is a fracture of the wrist, wherein the break occurs at the end of radius, rather than one of the smaller bones of the wrist itself. This is also known as a Distal Radius fracture.


What causes a Colles fracture?

The primary cause of a Colles fractures is a fall onto the outstretched wrist. It is natural for you to stretch out your arm to try and catch yourself as you fall, but your bones are not designed to withstand this kind of pressure, so the radius is prone to snap when this happens. Colles fractures can also occur with far less force, in those who suffer from osteoporosis, and have substantially weakened bones.


What are symptoms of a Colles fracture?

Primary symptoms of a Colles fracture are pain, swelling, bruising and deformity. Numbness in the fingers is also possible if there has been internal bleeding along the nerves of the hand.


How to diagnose a Colles fracture

Although a physical examination will expose the pain and general area of the fracture, an X-ray is necessary in order to determine what type of fracture you have suffered, and if it is indeed a Colles fracture. An MRI may also be required if the doctor suspects additional ligament damage to the joint as a result of the trauma.


Treatment Options

Non-surgical treatment of a Colles fracture

If the fracture is non-displaced, which is to say that it is simply a crack, without the bone having moved or shifted, then it is normal to simply place the arm in a cast, and the bone should knit itself together properly. If the doctor is able to bring a displaced fracture back together in such a way that the pieces fit snugly, it may also be possible to cast. In this case (or in that of surgery) the expected healing time for this type of fracture is a bout 6 weeks.

Surgical treatment of a Colles fracture

If the two parts of the bone have shifted or shattered in such a way that they cannot be joined cleanly, a cast will not suffice, and surgery will be necessary. This surgery will consist of the doctor reforming the ends of the bone so that they will sit together flush, at which point the doctor may need to employ pins and/or screws and plates to keep the bone in position as it heals. If the doctor suspects that the fracture may extend into the joint itself, it will be necessary to get a CT scan of the wrist, to determine whether or not, further surgery is necessary, as the joint must perfectly aligned to minimize the chance of traumatic arthritis.


How can Dr. Knight help you with a Colles fracture?

Over his years in practice, Dr. Knight has gained much experience treating traumatic wrist injuries, and has returned some of the most horrific wrist injuries to functional, pain-free use.


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HandAndWristInstitute.com does not offer medical advice. The information presented here is offered for informational purposes only. Read Disclaimer