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Distal Radius Fracture (Broken Wrist)

Home » Conditions » Distal Radius Fracture (Broken Wrist)

Distal Radius Fracture (Broken Wrist)

A Patient’s Guide to Distal Radius Fractures

Wrist fractures, or distal radius fractures, are very common. In fact, the radius is the most commonly broken bone in the arm.

The radius is the larger of the two bones of the forearm. The end toward the wrist is called the distal end. A fracture of the distal radius occurs when the area of the radius near the wrist breaks. A distal radius fracture almost always occurs about 1 inch from the end of the bone; however, the break can occur in many different ways, including:

  • Colles Fracture. One of the most common distal radius fractures, a Colles fracture occurs when the broken fragment of the radius tilts upward.
  • Intra-articular fracture. A fracture that extends into the wrist joint.
  • Extra-articular fracture. A fracture that does not extend into the joint.
  • Open fracture. When a fractured bone breaks the skin, it is called an open fracture. These types of fractures require immediate medical attention because of the risk for infection.
  • Comminuted fracture. When a bone is broken into more than two pieces, it is called a comminuted fracture.


Reduce your risk.

It’s impossible to prevent the unpredictable events that often cause a broken wrist. However, there are some preventative measures that you can take, including:

  • Build bone strength. Eat a nutritious diet with adequate calcium and vitamin D, engage in weight-bearing exercises, and quit smoking.
  • Prevent falls. Most broken wrists occur when people fall forward onto an outstretched hand. So, be sure to wear sensible shoes, remove home hazards, avoid slippery surfaces, install handrails on your stairways, etc.
  • Use protective gear during sporting activities. Wear wrist guards for high-risk activities, such as in-line skating, snowboarding, rugby and football.


Pinpoint your pain.

The symptoms of broken wrists, and their severity, depend on the type of fracture experienced.General symptoms of broken wrists include:

  • Pain (moderate to extreme)
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Decreased sensation and movement
  • Complete bone displacement and deformity

In the most extreme cases, a fractured wrist may affect nerves and blood flow, resulting in extreme pain, a numb wrist and hand, and pale fingers. A wrist injury causing these symptoms should be considered an emergency and immediate medical care should be sought.



Get the answers you need.

To confirm the diagnosis, your doctor will order an X-ray of the wrist. X-rays can show if the bone is broken and whether there is displacement (e.g., a gap between broken bones). They can also show how many pieces of broken bone there are.



Life’s too short to put up with pain.

Our orthopaedic specialists have years of expertise in treating broken wrists. If Dr. Kayal and his team determine that a broken wrist is present, then they develop a treatment plan based on the patient’s age and condition, the location and severity of the fracture, and the potential for successful non-surgical treatment. Some non-surgical treatment options include closed reduction, casting the bone, physical therapy (following a necessary healing period), and anti-inflammatory and pain medications. If the wrist fracture is severe and requires surgical intervention, the surgeon will likely implant rods or screws to maintain proper position of the bone during healing. Allowing the bones to remain out of alignment can cause issues such as early arthritis.

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