Colles’ Fracture Of Wrist – Symptoms Of a Fall On Outstretched Hand

A Colles’ Fracture is a break of the radius (bone of the forearm) near the wrist. Symptoms of colles’ fracture include wrist pain and swelling and it will be difficult for a person with this fracture to hold or lift heavy objects with the hand. This article will take a look at the medical symptoms of colles’ fracture of the wrist and explains how it is treated.

Colles’ Fracture Symptoms And Causes

Symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness and bruising on the thumb-side of the wrist
  • The hand may appear to be turned or displaced outward in some cases

Colles’ fracture is generally caused by trauma to the wrist often involving a fall on an outstretched hand or a direct trauma to the wrist. This condition can happen when a person attempts to break a fall during sports such as rollerblading, skateboarding, or other high-speed activities. In older adults any fall on an outstretched hand could result in this fracture.

In small children, bones are soft and tend to result in an incomplete fracture on one side of the bone, this may be termed a torus, buckle or greenstick fracture. In elderly, the bones are brittle and a complete colles’ fracture is more common.

Colles’ Fracture Diagnosis And Treatment

Diagnosis involves the observation of the aforementioned symptoms following an injury or fall and the condition should be evaluated by a physician. The evaluation may include a physical and x-ray examination.

First aid or emergency care should include immobilization of the wrist in a normal resting position. The application of cold packs or ice is recommended to control inflammation. If the wrist is displaced, do not attempt to move or straighten it. The person should be taken to a medical care facility.

The fracture may need to be reduced in order to align the bone ends to allow proper healing. If small fragments of bone are involved, surgery and the use of pins, screws, plates, wires, etc., may be necessary. Following reduction, the fracture site is immobilized with a cast or splint.

If you have a teen or young adult who has fallen on an outstretched hand during a sporting event and now has difficulty holding or grasping a heavy object with the involved hand. Or the person in question is an elderly person who tried to break a fall with hands extended and is now experiencing pain and swelling in the wrist, a colles’ fracture should be suspected and an appointment for medical care should be scheduled.