Wrist Fractures (Distal Radius Fractures)

Centres of Excellence -> Orthopedic Surgery & Sports Medicine -> Wrist Fractures (Distal Radius Fractures)

Wrist Fractures (Distal Radius Fractures)

Distal Radius fractures are one of the most common fractures in general, occurring in the wrist area. They most often occur as a result of a fall, but they can also be caused by sports injuries or traffic accidents. They can be treated conservatively "in cast" or with surgery, if there is significant displacement of the fragments or the fracture is unstable.

What is Wrist fracture (Distal Radius fracture)?

The radius is one of the two bones in the forearm on the side of the thumb. The part of the radius bone that connects to the hand is called the distal radius. A fracture in that area is called a distal radius fracture.  

They most often occur as a result of falling on an outstretched arm, but they can also occur in a traffic accident, falling from a bicycle or motorcycle, falling on snow and ice or during some other sports activity. Most often, it is an isolated injury, which means that there are no other fractures or major injuries. Based on the number and type of fragments, fractures are classified according to several authors and a decision is made on the type of treatment.

What are the symptoms of Distal Radius fracture?

  • Pain and swelling around the wrist after a fall
  • Hematoma or blood bruise
  • Visible deformity – the hand "stands in a strange position"

What are the types of treatment for Distal Radius fracture? 

The decision on the type of treatment is made based on several factors:

  • how big is the displacement of the fragments
  • is there a comminution (bone fracture into many small pieces)
  • is the joint affected
  • is there damage to the median nerve
  • age of the patient
  • functional requirements of the patient

In any case, the initial treatment includes the placement of a longuette and taking analgesics.

Conservative treatment (longuette and cast) 

If the fragments are in a good position, a longuette is placed, and then a circular cast. The usual duration of immobilization is up to six weeks, after which the cast is removed and physical therapy is started. During conservative treatment, check-up examinations and X-ray imaging are carried out through the cast.

Surgical treatment

Fractures that are considered unstable or cannot be treated with immobilization are treated surgically. The surgery begins with an incision above the forearm on the side of the palm. This enables access to the fracture, and after repositioning (returning the fragments to the right place), the fracture is fixed with a plate and screws. In some cases, multiple surgical cuts or incisions are required to adequately treat the entire injury.

After surgery, light stretching exercises are started as part of early physical therapy, and the wound is bandaged regularly. Early exercise is key in achieving maximum recovery after surgery.

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