What are distal radius (wrist) fractures?

There are different types of distal radius fractures: extra-articular, these do not extend into the wrist joint; intra-articular, which do extend into the wrist joint; and a comminuted fracture, which involves the bone-breaking into multiple pieces.

What causes distal radius (wrist) fractures?

Distal radius (wrist) fractures can occur at any age, and can be caused by something as simple as a fall, or by higher energy mechanisms such as motor vehicle incidents.

It is understood that you are at higher risk of sustaining a distal radius fracture if you have osteoporosis

Symptoms of distal radius (wrist) fractures?

The patient will experience sudden and severe pain, bruising, swelling, tenderness, deformity, and difficulty when moving the thumb or fingers. A physical examination will check the wrist and forearm to ensure that there are no other injuries and that the nerves around the wrist are not affected by the fracture.

X-rays of the wrist will be performed and further imaging - such as an MRI scan or CT scan - can be useful in the case of complex fractures, allowing any additional injuries to be identified.

Treatment options for distal radius (wrist) fractures

The treatment of distal radius (wrist) fractures dependS on a number of factors, including; how the injury occurred, the severity of the injury, the age of the patient, the lifestyle of the patient, and whether the patient has any other medical conditions.

For cases in which the bone has remained well aligned, no surgery may be needed, and a plaster cast can be used to stabilise the fracture whilst it heals. If the fracture is more severe and the bone cannot be held with a plaster, then surgery may be recommended. Surgical fixation of the fracture uses wires, or screws and plates to hold the fracture in the correct position whilst healing occurs.

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