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Colles fracture

A very common bone fracture that occurs in patients under 65 years of age, Colles fracture injures the wrist bone of the patients. Older patients normally sustain hip fractures. The most common type of broken wrist is one in which the larger forearm gets broken near the wrist. This fracture is noticed when a patient falls with an outstretched hand. The wrist joint of the patient is displaced and it rests behind its usual anatomic position. Accidents like car accident, a bike accident or similar situations can lead to Colles fracture. When the ulna (the other forearm bone) is broken, it is called a distal ulna fracture. The fracture is named after an Irish surgeon and anatomist, Abraham Colles in 1814 who first described it.


The doctor usually describes a wrist fracture by radius. This means that the patient has sustained a fracture in one of the two forearm bones. There may be other types of fractures one can sustain near the wrist, but when the end of the forearm bone is broken it is a wrist fracture or Colles fracture. When pain is associated in the wrist joint after an injury, a wrist fracture is suspected. There are typical symptoms of a wrist fracture such as wrist pain and deformity of the wrist. Normally the fracture is about 1 inch from the end of the bone. When the fracture extends into the joint, it is called an intra-articular fracture. This kind of fracture is more difficult to treat.


A primary care physician reviews the X-rays to determine the proper position of the fracture and assesses the stability of the broken bone structure. The area of the wrist is amenable for cast treatment and most of the Colles fracture patients can be treated using casts. For fractures in which the bones are out of proper position, a doctor can reset the fracture with local anesthesia or under light sedation. This procedure is known as reducing a wrist fracture. Only an orthopedist can determine if surgery is necessary. Various considerations like the abnormality of the wrist angle or the degree of shortening of the forearm bone are kept in mind before going for treatments like casting or surgery. If there is minimal shortening or displacement, casting is sufficient. Operative treatment is necessary if the injury is more significant.One can prevent Colles fracture by maintaining good bone health and by avoiding osteoporosis and falls. Older people should take extra care to keep their balance and prevent falls.

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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: November 22, 2019