Colles Fracture

A Colles fracture is a break of one or both of the bones in the forearm just above the wrist. This type of fracture most often occurs when a person tries to catch himself or herself when falling forward by extending the hands and arms to reduce the impact of hitting the ground.

Symptoms

  • Pain and swelling just above the wrist
  • Inability to hold or lift heavy objects

Treatment

Colles fracture treatment typically includes immobilizing the wrist and arm with a cast. If the fracture is more severe, surgery might be required which would include pins or screws to hold the bones together.

Recovery

Most people return to all their former activities after a colles fracture. The nature of the injury, the kind of treatment received, and the body's response to the treatment all have an impact, so the answer is different for each individual. Almost all patients will have some stiffness in the wrist. This will generally lessen in the month or two after the cast is taken off or after surgery, and continue to improve for at least 2 years. Most patients will be able to resume light activities, such as swimming or exercising the lower body in the gym, within 1 to 2 months after the cast is removed or within 1 to 2 months after surgery. Vigorous activities, such as skiing or football, may be resumed between 3 and 6 months after the injury.

Distal Radial Fracture

The radius and ulna are the two bones in your forearm. A fracture of the distal end of the radius, the end of the bone near the wrist, is the most commonly broken bone of the wrist. Falling on an outstretched hand usually causes this type of fracture.

Symptoms

  • Wrist appears crooked and deformed
  • Pain, tenderness and swelling in the wrist
  • Difficulty moving the wrist

Treatment

Distal radial fracture treatment options vary depending on the severity of the fracture. If the ends of the bones are aligned, a brace will be applied. If the fracture is displaced, the doctor may need to realign the ends of the bones and then apply a brace to immobilize the wrist while the bones heal. Our hand doctors at Emory will discuss the best treatment option for your distal radius fracture.

Recovery

Full recovery should be expected to take at least a year. Some pain with vigorous activities may be expected for the first year. Some residual stiffness or ache is to be expected for 2 years. However, the stiffness is usually minor and may not affect the overall function of the arm.