Distal radius fracture

This text provides information in simple language on the topic: Distal radius fracture.

What is a distal radius fracture?

In a distal radius fracture, the spoke is broken. The spoke is a bone in the arm. The spoke lies between the wrist and the elbow. The technical term for spoke is: radius.

In a distal radius fracture, the spoke near the wrist is broken. The distal radius fracture is therefore also called: wrist fracture. A distal radius fracture usually results from a fall.

Two age groups in particular get a distal radius fracture:

  • Children from 6 years
  • Adults over 70 years. Older people often suffer from bone loss. Bone loss means: the bones become weaker. The bones then have holes, for example, and are no longer as strong. Therefore, they can break faster.

A distal radius fracture is the most common break in adults.

Note: A distal radius fracture is different in adults than in children. In children, the break is usually not as bad as in adults. This article is about the distal radius fracture in adults.

A distal radius fracture can be treated well. Affected people can suffer from consequential damage. Affected people may no longer be able to move their wrist as well. A distal radius fracture can also increase the risk of osteoarthritis.

What causes a distal radius fracture?

The cause of a distal radius fracture is almost always a fall. A person falls? Then the person usually stretches out their arms. The person wants to support himself with his hands. Then the bone can break. There are two forms of distal radius fracture:

The extension fracture. It occurs when you fall on the extended wrist. This means: the wrist is stretched towards the back of the hand.

The flexion fracture. It occurs when you fall on the flexed wrist. This means: the wrist is bent towards the palm of the hand when you fall.

The extension fracture is more common than the flexion fracture. Most of the time you try to support yourself with the palm of your hand.

How can you recognize a distal radius fracture?

Affected people often have wrist pain with a distal radius fracture. Is the person moving the wrist or the forearm? Then the pain usually gets bigger. Most of the time, the wrist becomes thick. People may also have bruises around their wrists.

Other signs of a distal radius fracture include:

  • a misalignment of the wrist
  • Sensory disturbance in the hand, such as tingling or a furry feeling
  • Loss of strength

How is a distal radius fracture treated?

Did you fall on your arm? Then go to the doctor right away. A distal radius fracture must be treated by a doctor. The doctor first asks you: How did the accident happen? What are your complaints? Then he looks at the wrist and forearm. The doctor also checks:

  • Is the hand well supplied with blood?
  • Can the affected person move the wrist normally?
  • Does the person have a normal feeling in the wrist?

After the physical exam, the doctor will take an X-ray. The doctor can see the injury exactly on the X-ray. Then the doctor can suggest the necessary treatment.

There are two treatment options:

  1. conservative therapy. Conservative therapy is treatment without surgery. Have the bones shifted only a little? Then the doctor usually suggests conservative therapy. The affected person is given pain medication. Then the doctor puts the bones back into position. Then the affected person is given a cast. The plaster of paris stabilizes the fracture. The break will then heal better. Affected people usually have to wear the cast for four to eight weeks.
  2. a surgery. During the operation, the doctor connects the bones with the help of metal plates. The metal plates hold the bones in place. For example, surgery is necessary in these cases:
  • The ends of the broken bone are wide apart. The technical term for this is: dislocation.
  • The break is open. An open fracture also injures the skin.
  • The break is a rubble break. That means: the bone is split into several fragments.
  • There are other injuries. The break also injured vessels or nerves, for example.

After the operation, the affected people usually get a plaster cast.

Where can you get more information?

Would you like to read more about the distal radius fracture? More information about the distal radius fracture can be found here. Attention: This link leads out of our simple language offer. The information is then no longer in plain language.

Attention: This text only contains general information. The text does not replace a visit to the doctor. Only a doctor can give you accurate information.Are you feeling sick? Or do you have questions about an illness? Then you should always see a doctor.

We wrote the texts together with the Light Language Research Center. The light language research center is at the University of Hildesheim.