Christie Clinic - Medicine for Your Life

Our website is currently having technical difficulties. To view the site, please click here

Health Encyclopedia

Health Encyclopedia

An invaluable resource of health information.

Colles’ wrist fracture

Colles' fracture is a break across the end of the main bone of the forearm (the radius). A Colles' fracture results in a backward and outward position of the hand in relation to the forearm.

  • Alternative Names

    Transverse wrist fracture; Dinner-fork deformity of the wrist

  • Considerations

    Wrist fractures are common among children and the elderly. Children's bones are soft and tend to get buckle (torus) fractures, which are incomplete fractures on one side of the bone. Because bones become brittle with age, fractures are common among the elderly.

    Wrist fractures most often occur when a person falls forward and then attempts to break the fall by throwing the hands forward. The impact of the hand on the ground and the sudden uptake of body weight by the wrist cause the ends of the radius and/or the ulna (the bones in the forearm) to buckle just above the wrist.

    In older people, particularly those with osteoporosis, the radius may fracture just above the wrist, resulting in a backward angle. This is called a Colles' fracture.

    The fracture may appear on an x-ray as a mild increase in density on the top side of the bone with a slight irregularity in the surface rather than a nice smooth line. Severe injuries will show evidence of a fracture through the entire bone.

    Treatment may range from simple immobilization with a splint and sling to a lightweight fiberglass cast. If cast immobilization is insufficient to repair the fracture, surgery may be necessary and the break may need to be fixed with a plate and screws, pins, or an external fixation device.

    Older people with Colles' fractures often fail to regain full mobility of the wrist joint. Carpal tunnel syndrome may occur as an early or late complication of the injury. Chronic pain may result from injury to the ligaments or the joint surface of the wrist. In addition, in older patients, the fracture is usually related to osteoporosis, so treatment for osteoporosis is advised.

  • Causes

    This injury is usually the result of trauma from a fall in which the person attempts to break the fall using the hands and arms. It is frequently associated with such sports as rollerblading, skateboarding, running, or any other activity in which the hands may be called upon to prevent a foreword fall occurring at relatively high speed.

  • Symptoms
    • History of a typical fall resulting in wrist injury
    • Wrist pain
    • Swelling just above the wrist
    • Deformity of the arm just above the wrist (increased angulation)
    • Unable to hold or lift object of any significant weight
  • First Aid
    • Reassure the injured person.
    • A fractured or dislocated hand, finger, or wrist should be placed and splinted in a normal resting position. Rest the fingers around a padded object such as a sock, wadded cloth, or rolled elastic bandage. If the hand or wrist is injured, place the object in the victim's palm, and use a circumferential wrap to maintain the position of the object. In order for the hand to maintain circulation, keep the fingertips uncovered. If the victim has a broken wrist, place a rigid splint on the underside of the wrist, hand, and forearm to restrict any motion. Broken fingers can be splinted independently or taped together with padding in between.
    • Elevate the broken wrist, hand, or finger and place it in a sling.
    • Use an ice pack over the wrist to help reduce swelling.
    • Transport the victim to an emergency medical facility.
    • DO NOT attempt to move the wrist or hand.
  • Do Not

    The hand or the wrist should not be moved.

  • Prevention
    • Exercise to slow or prevent problems with the muscles, joints, and bones.
    • Eat a well-balanced diet with adequate amounts of calcium.
    • Remove any obstacles that may cause a person to trip or fall (such as loose rugs).
    • Install railings or use aids such as a cane or walker to help prevent falls.
  • References

    Woolfrey KGH, Eisenhauer MA. Wrist and Forearm. In: Marx J, ed. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 6th ed. St Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2006:chap 48.

Review Date: 7/29/2008

Reviewed By: Thomas N. Joseph, MD, Private Practice specializing in Orthopaedics, subspecialty Foot and Ankle, Camden Bone & Joint, Camden, SC. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2014 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
adam.com
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic on University Photo Christie Clinic on University
101 West University Avenue Champaign, IL 61820 Main Phone: (217) 366-1200
Billing Services: (217) 366-1382
Toll Free: (888) 391-0412
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic on Windsor/Convenient Care Photo Christie Clinic on Windsor/Convenient Care
1801 West Windsor Road Champaign, IL 61822 (217) 366-8000
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic at Presence Covenant Photo Christie Clinic at Presence Covenant
1400 West Park Street Urbana, IL 61801 (217) 366-1200
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Rantoul Photo Christie Clinic in Rantoul
209 West Borman Drive Rantoul, IL 61866 (217) 892-9671
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Mahomet/Convenient Care Photo Christie Clinic in Mahomet/Convenient Care
1001 Commercial Drive Mahomet, IL 61853 (217) 586-6600 or (217)366-8130
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Danville on Vermilion/Convenient Care Photo Christie Clinic in Danville on Vermilion/Convenient Care
3545 North Vermilion Street Danville, IL 61832 (217) 442-8611
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Tuscola Photo Christie Clinic in Tuscola
300 North Main Street Tuscola, IL 61953 (217) 253-9258
Christie Clinic CU Sleep Photo CU Sleep
1207 South Mattis Avenue Champaign, IL 61821 (217) 355-1684
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic Cancer Center Photo Christie Clinic Cancer Center
109 West University Avenue Champaign, IL 61820 (217) 366-5180
Christie Clinic Convenient Care in County Market (Kirby & Duncan) Photo Convenient Care in County Market (Kirby & Duncan)
2901 West Kirby Avenue Champaign, IL 61821 (217) 366-8130
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Urbana/Convenient Care Photo Christie Clinic in Urbana/Convenient Care
1710 East Windsor Road Urbana, IL 61802 (217) 344-9440
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Danville on Logan Photo Christie Clinic in Danville on Logan
800 North Logan Avenue Danville, IL 61832 (217) 431-8930
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic on Fox Drive Photo Christie Clinic on Fox Drive
2110 Fox Drive, Suite B Champaign, IL 61820
Christie Clinic Kirby Medical Group Specialty Clinic in Monticello Photo Kirby Medical Group Specialty Clinic in Monticello
1109 A. North State Street Monticello, IL 61856 (217) 366-1304
Gibson Area Hospital
1120 N Melvin Gibson City, IL 60936 (217) 784-2240
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Mattoon Photo Christie Clinic in Mattoon
105 B Professional Plaza Mattoon, IL 61938 (217) 345-3000
Christie Clinic Sarah Bush Lincoln Health System Photo Sarah Bush Lincoln Health System
1000 Health Center Drive Mattoon, IL 61938 (217) 258-2588
Christie Clinic The Champaign SurgiCenter Photo The Champaign SurgiCenter
1702 S. Mattis Avenue Champaign, IL 61821 (217) 326-2030
Christie Clinic The Carle Foundation Hospital Photo The Carle Foundation Hospital
611 West Park Street Urbana, IL 61801 (217) 383-3311
Iroquois Memorial Hospital
200 E. Fairman Ave. Watseka, IL 60970 (815) 432-5841
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic at Savoy Photo Christie Clinic at Savoy
501 North Dunlap Avenue Savoy, IL 61874 Transformations: (217) 366-7460 Internal Medicine: (217) 366-5434 Ophthalmology: (217) 366-1250
Christie Clinic at 410 E. University
410 E. University Champaign, IL 61820
Christie Clinic on West Park Street
1405 West Park Street Urbana, IL 61801 217-366-1237
Christie Clinic in Monticello
107 West Main Street Monticello, IL 61856 217.762.3352