Distal Radius Fracture (Broken Wrist)

Overview

This condition is a break of the radius bone at the wrist. The radius is the larger of the two bones that connect the wrist to the elbow. The other bone is called the ulna. The radius supports the majority of forces at the wrist joint with its large joint surface. A fracture of the distal end of the radius – the end nearest the wrist -is one of the most common types of fractures. It may be part of a complex injury that involves other tissues, nerves and bones of the wrist.

Causes

A distal radius fracture is typically caused by direct trauma to the wrist. Common types of trauma include a fall on an outstretched hand, an automobile or bike accident, or a forceful blow to the wrist during a contact sport such as football.

Symptoms

Symptoms typically include pain, swelling, and tenderness at the wrist. The hand and wrist may be bruised and appear deformed. Moving the wrist may be difficult and painful. Mild numbness or tingling in the fingers may be present.

Treatment

Distal radius fractures can range from simple, clean breaks to severe fractures with multiple bone fragments. Treatment options, which vary depending on the type of injury, are designed to hold the broken radius in its correct position while it heals. If the fracture ends are out of alignment, the physician may need to perform a procedure called a closed reduction to realign them. The bones can then be stabilized with a cast, splint, or brace that may cover only the wrist and forearm or may extend to above the elbow. If the bones cannot be realigned with this method, surgery may be required.



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