When we talk about the most common orthopedic injuries, distal radius fracture is one of them. It is the fracture of the forearm bone known as radius. Now, when its distal end (the end towards the wrist) gets broken, the condition is known as distal radius fracture. Radius is known to be the most common bone that gets broken in the arm during trauma. That is the reason why distal radius fracture is known to be one of the most common ones.
What is Distal Radius Fracture?
When the radius bone gets broken near the wrist, it is said a distal radius fracture. Such a condition generally occurs when someone falls with a flexed or outstretched hand. Besides this, distal radius fracture can also occur in an automobile accident, skiing accident, or during sports activities.
Types of Distal Radius Fracture
Distal radius fracture can be isolated or can occur along with distal ulna fracture. When a combined distal radius fracture occurs with the distal ulna, the condition is known as the radius and ulna fracture. Further, based on the angle of break of the distal radius, this condition can be classified as Colles or Smith fracture.
Such a condition generally occurs when a direct impact on the palm occurs. In case of Colles fracture, the broken end of the radius gets bent backward. In layman’s terms, this condition can be best described as the condition where the appearance of broken is like a ‘fork facing down.’
Smith fracture condition occurs when the impact is applied at the back of the wrist. This could result when someone falls on a bent wrist. It is seen that in this type of fracture, the distal radius gets bent down towards the palm.
Symptoms of Distal Radius Fracture
- Tenderness when touched
Treatment for Distal Radius Fracture
Just like other fractures, the decision of the type of treatment will depend upon the type and extent of fracture that occurred. The fracture can result in bone displacement, comminution, the involvement of the joint, and fracturing of the ulna as well. So, considering all these parameters, the orthopedist will decide whether to perform surgery or not.
When the fracture does not result in any severe damage and the broken bone is not displaced much, non-surgical treatment is indicated. During this procedure, a splint or cast is applied for around six weeks. The orthopedist will also have a look at the progress using X-rays to decide further treatment procedures and action. Generally, X-rays are taken at three and six weeks.
When we talk about the displaced fracture, closed reduction is done using anesthesia and then a splint or cast is applied.
Surgery is only indicated in those cases where it is not possible to fix the fracture with the application of a cast or a splint. Such condition generally occurs in case of unstable fractures.
During surgery, the surgeon will make an incision to correct the anatomical position of the broken bone. Besides this, to hold the pieces in correct alignment certain orthopaedic implants trauma instruments are used. The most commonly used trauma implants include a hand plating system, locking compression plate, and cannulated bone screw.
After surgery, the surgeon may apply a splint for at least two weeks to ensure the stability of the treated area. Besides this, the orthopedist may also suggest certain exercises to ensure speedy and best recovery.
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