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Distal Radius Fractures

What Is A Distal Radius Fracture​?

A distal radius fracture is the most common arm and wrist bone fracture. These bone fractures often occur about one inch from the wrist joint. Your radius it the largest bone in your forearm and its distal end is the portion nearest your wrist. This area of your forearm and wrist is susceptible to breaking, especially under abrupt force, like catching yourself with an outstretched arm during a fall.

Your distal radius fracture may be stable or unstable. Stable fractures include non-displaced bones, which do not move away from one another during the break, and some displaced fractures that are close enough to treat with just a cast or splint. More severe, unstable fractures move or shift, even after being repositioned and casted. These fractures need surgery to stabilize the bone and stop the wrist from healing in a crooked position. Beyond being stable or unstable, distal radius fractures also occur in other forms:


  • Colles fracture, where the broken bone fragment tilts upward
  • Intra-articular fracture, which extends into your joint
  • Open fracture, where the bone breaks through your skin
  • Comminuted fracture, when your bone breaks into more than two pieces

What Are The Causes Of A Broken Wrist?

One of the most common causes of a broken wrist occurs when people hit the ground hard while reaching out a hand to catch themselves during an accidental fall. Broken wrists can also happen during car accidents or other high-impact collisions while playing sports.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Wrist Fracture?

A wrist fracture will cause extreme pain, particularly when moving the wrist or making a gripping or flexing motion with the hand and fingers. The wrist will likely display visible swelling and bruising, and may be bent into an unnatural position.

What Are The Risk Factors?

Your risk of a broken wrist may be higher if you’re involved in sports that involve physical contact or falls, such as football or snowboarding. The likelihood is also increased by conditions such as osteoporosis that lead to weakened bones. Environmental factors also apply, such as icy surfaces or household clutter which may increase your risk of falling.

How Is A Distal Radius Fracture Diagnosed?

After your injury, you should seek immediate medical attention if you experience significant pain or numbness, or your wrist looks deformed. When you see Dr. Nance, she uses X-rays to determine the type and severity of your distal radius fracture. If you have a stable fracture and no space between the bones, she may cast your injury and have you return for a follow-up.

What Are The Possible Treatments?

Depending on the severity of the fracture as determined on XRs, either conservative treatment in a short arm cast or surgical repair will be indicated.

If you think you may have a distal radius fracture, don’t wait to see Dr. Nance: Call the office today or go online to book your initial consultation.

Meet Dr. Erin Nance

Dr. Erin Nance specializes in orthopedic hand and upper extremity surgery, as well as traditional orthopedic services. Dr. Nance takes her time with every patient in her Midtown East, New York office, ensuring everyone gets the care and attention they deserve. Learn More »

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