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What is Distal Radius Fracture - Where to Buy a Splint for this Fracture?

Updated on June 10, 2011

There are only 2 bones in the forearm, namely radius and ulna and a fracture of the distal radius is a break at the distal end of the radius bone closest to the wrist. Distal radius fractures are classified in four types and those are:

  1. Open fracture of distal radius: When the broken bone of radius penetrates through the skin.
  2. Comminuted fracture of distal radius: When the radius bone breaks into more than 2 pieces.
  3. Intra-articular fracture: A broken radius bone within the joint.
  4. Extra-articular fracture: A broken radius bone that does not involve the joint.

Many distal radius fractures are commonly known as Colles’ wrist fractures, so if you think you have a broken bone of wrist, contact your orthopedic doctor immediately. Your doctor can prescribe you a distal radial fracture splint to wear which you can buy from an online store like Amazon or Ebay or get it made by a splint specialist according to your size in order to avoid your arm from moving too much.

CAUSES OF DISTAL RADIUS FRACTURE

The most common cause of a distal radial fracture is a fall on an outstretched hand. Some other conditions may also cause fracture of distal radius including but not limited to a direct blow to the wrist while in motor vehicle accidents, falling off a bike on an outstretched hand, a fall while skiing, a fall while playing contact sports, and many other types of injuries.

RISK FACTORS OF DISTAL RADIUS FRACTURE

Some factors that increase the chances of breaking the radius bone are:

  1. Osteoporosis.
  2. Poor nutrition
  3. Conditions that increase the risk of falling:
  4. Snow sports
  5. Ice skiing
  6. Loss of muscle strength.
  7. Or if you are elderly

Contact your musculoskeletal disease specialist if you have any of the above risk factors.

An old lady with healed distal radius fracture
An old lady with healed distal radius fracture
Distal radius fracture splint for immobilization of radius bone of wrist
Distal radius fracture splint for immobilization of radius bone of wrist

SYMPTOMS OF DISTAL RADIUS FRACTURE

If you have any of the symptoms listed below, do not assume it is due to distal radius fracture, as these symptoms may be caused by other conditions also but all these symptoms together or separately mimic or actually involve distal radius fracture.

  1. Pain in the arm or wrist
  2. Bruising
  3. Swelling
  4. Sensitivity
  5. Severe pain with movement of wrist
  6. Difficulty moving the wrist or arm.

The best guide is your doctor who will investigate and give the accurate diagnosis of your condition.

DIAGNOSIS OF DISTAL RADIUS FRACTURE

The primary doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history and will perform a physical examination and then will refer to an orthopedic specialist because an orthopedist focuses on bones and will give you the correct diagnosis with the help of some tests including but not limited to x-rays which is a test that uses radiation to form an image, used to look for broken bones in the body. Doctor can also perform an MRI for severe cases.

TREATMENT OF DISTAL RADIUS FRACTURE

The type of treatment you get for distal radius fracture depends on the location of the fracture and how serious is the injury or dislocation if any. Some acute distal radius fractures can be treated with a plaster, cast, or a distal radial fracture splint but chronic fractures may require surgery. Check with your ortho doctor about the best treatment plan available for you. Your treatment options will include:

Medical Treatment

Your orthopedic doctor may choose to treat your fracture using a cast. Your doctor may apply a distal radial splint in the initial phases until swelling goes down your arm. Some distal radial fractures may require open reduction internal fixation of fracture. This means that the doctor will realign your fractures bones before the healing begins. This reduction can be done by the doctor moving your arm into position in the clinical setting or while doing distal radius surgery. Your cast may be removed after a few weeks. Most casts are removed in about 6 weeks of application. You may need to undergo regular x-ray examination to monitor the healing process of fracture.

Surgery:

Severe distal radius fractures may require surgery. At first, the orthopedic surgeon will realign the bones (open reduction internal fixation or ORIF) and then may use any of the following tools to hold the bones together as they heal:

  1. Plate and Screws
  2. Pins.
  3. An external device that holds together the inside pins.

Physiotherapy

You will need to work with a physical therapist to regain range of motion and strength and after surgery.

Medicines

Your ortho doctor can prescribe you an analgesic or suggest to you use non prescription pain relievers.

PREVENTION OF DISTAL RADIUS FRACTURE

To help reduce your chances of breaking the radius bone, take the following necessary steps:

  1. Maintain good nutrition for bone health including consumption of adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D.
  2. Most contact sports and some sports like inline skating put you at a risk of distal radius fracture, so you need to wear a wrist guard to avoid direct blow injuries.
  3. Keep your muscles strong by exercise to prevent falls.

Distal Radius Fracture Removal of Temporary Cast After Surgery

HubMob Weekly Topic: The return of the Health Hubs Hub #3 by soni2006
HubMob Weekly Topic: The return of the Health Hubs Hub #3 by soni2006

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    • soni2006 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajinder Soni 

      7 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thanks a lot RNMSN.

    • RNMSN profile image

      Barbara Bethard 

      7 years ago from Tucson, Az

      well done information on a common fracture soni2006!! voted up and useful!!

    • soni2006 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajinder Soni 

      8 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Yes you are right DiamondRN. Most people who have Colles fracture are young sportsman who land on their outstretched hands and receive this injury. There are lesser reports of professional or old players as they are well trained about these common problems but when they have they have really really bad injuries.

    • DiamondRN profile image

      Bob Diamond RPh 

      8 years ago from Charlotte, NC USA

      Sorry. I missed it. In addition to older patients, I've seen it in several young baseball players who changed their mind when heading around third base for home when they realized that they didn't have time -- then they have to stop quickly to stay on third base and their feet go out from under them. They stick out their hands to balance themselves and land on their wrists and receive the same type of injury.

    • soni2006 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajinder Soni 

      8 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Yes you are right DiamondRN. I mentioned it in the hub as Colles' wrist fracture.

    • DiamondRN profile image

      Bob Diamond RPh 

      8 years ago from Charlotte, NC USA

      This is also called a "Colles' Fracture."

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