Diagnosing a Colles Fracture

Broken wrists are usually easy to diagnose. Following the injury, you will feel an immediate pain, swelling, bruising, redness and deformation of the wrist. In order to achieve a complete and speedy recovery, you will want to meet with an orthopedic surgeon right away to establish the extent of the fracture.

Clean breaks should heal on their own and will just require a cast to immobilize and protect the forearm and wrist. Other more complex fractures may have splintered and caused internal bleeding. Understanding the type of fracture you have sustained is the first step in establishing an effective treatment plan.

Types of Fractures Include:

  • Avulsion fracture – Avulsion fractures occur when ligaments or tendons separate from the bone entirely.
  • Impacted – A fracture is referred to as impacted when the broken ends of the bones drive into each other. This can result in more severe fractures and splintering.
  • Shear – When a bone breaks into two pieces.
  • Stable – A break that is less severe and the bones remain in alignment. Ideally these fractures will heal properly on their own with a simple cast and sling.
  • Unstable – When a bone breaks into two or more pieces that fall out of regular alignment it is known as an unstable fracture. These types of fractures will likely not heal properly without medical intervention to shift the bones back into alignment.
  • Extra-articular – A fracture of the radius that does not extend into the wrist bone.
  • Intra-articular – Colles fractures happen at the wrist end of the forearm, also known as the distal end. When these distal radius fractures stretch into the wrist bone it is referred to as an intra-articular fracture.
  • Comminuted – comminuted fractures occur when the bone breaks into three or more pieces. These are more prone to fall out of alignment and can require plates and screws to ensure proper healing.
  • Compound – A compound, or open, fracture is a fracture that breaks through the skin and the bone is visible. These are less common and require immediate attention in order to prevent Malunion or infection.

Colles Fracture Treatments

Once a complete physical examination and any required X-rays and scans have been completed, your physician should know exactly how best to treat your broken wrist. For simple breaks, a cast is used to protect and immobilize a broken forearm and wrist. As the wrist sits in proper alignment in the cast, the body completes the healing process.

For more severe breaks, internal fixation will be required to first establish proper alignment before the body start to heal the broken bones while they are out of alignment, creating Malunion. Internal fixation is the process of utilizing pins, screws and plates to realign fractured bones. Ones the bones are in proper alignment, a cast will be used and the natural healing process can begin.

If Malunion or Nonunion occurs (improper or incomplete healing of broken bones), surgery or physical manipulation can be used to promote proper alignment and healing. Any deformations or incomplete healing of fractures can limit your range of motion, create sensitivity or tenderness and weaken the wrist.

How To Prevent a Wrist Fracture

Nobody plans on getting injured in sports, but it’s an unfortunate possibility each time you take the field. Wrist fractures happen in an instant and can knock you off your game for months. Taking preventative measures will ensure you’re playing at the top of your game for as long as possible. Here are steps you can take to prevent sports related injuries:

  • Prepare your body – By eating right, stretching and staying in shape, you give yourself the best chance of competing at a high level and standing your ground against opponents. Athletes that don’t take their physical health seriously are more likely to fall victim to injuries when game time comes and they can’t keep up with the opposition.
  • Learn how to fall – Though it seems natural to stick your hand down to catch yourself when you fall, in certain situations this can put your arms, hands and wrists in danger of fractures. Understanding when to brace your fall with your arm and when to roll through a fall can keep you healthy and extend your playing career.
  • Play hard – Playing sports timid is an easy way to get injured. If you go through a game at half-speed, you run the risk of getting knocked around by the players going all-out.

Playing smart and safe is always in the best interest of athletes. However, injuries still occur. When they do, you want to make sure that you take the proper steps to get yourself not only back the field fast, but back to 100%. Our goal at All-Pro Orthopedics is to make sure our patients don’t lose a step following an injury. When it comes to your body and your career, go with a medical specialist that has your best interest in mind. Call All-Pro today @ (954) 399-5976.

Common Questions about Colles Fracture Treatment

What is a Colles fracture?

Colles fractures are a type of broken wrist (fracture) that is distal (away from the center of the body) and dorsal angled (upward). A Colles fracture is very painful and is considered a severe injury.

How do I know if I have a Colles fracture?

An injured wrist is usually easy to diagnose. After the injury, you will notice immediate pain, swelling, bruising, redness, and deformation. Whether you smashed your wrist or stuck your arm down to break your fall, you will hear a popping sound. 

Immediately seek medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms after an injury to your forearm or wrist:

  • Immediate severe, burning pain in the affected wrist
  • Swelling and deformity of the wrist
  • Cannot comfortably move your wrist

How is Colles fracture diagnosed?

A Colles fracture is very easy to identify in the presence of deformity. Orthopedic specialists from our Florida locations will examine you and order an X-ray to show the break in your wrist. If you have a fracture that needs more precise imaging, a CT scan might be necessary to see how severe the injury is.

What are the different types of Colles fractures?

Our Florida locations can provide a complete diagnosis if you have sustained an impact on your wrist due to a fall or accident. 

  • Avulsion fracture – This occurs when ligaments or tendons separate from the bone completely.
  • Impacted fracture – Impacted fractures occur when the broken ends of the bones drive into each other. This can result in more severe fractures and splintered bones.
  • Shear fracture – When a bone breaks into two pieces.
  • Stable fracture – When the bone breaks and stays within the proper alignment.
  • Intra-articular – The break extends into the wrist joint.
  • Extra-articular – The fracture does not extend into the wrist joint.
  • Unstable fracture – The fracture is more complex, and the bones fall out of alignment.
  • Comminuted – The fractured bone splits into more than two pieces.
  • Open (compound) fracture – The fracture forced the broken bone through the skin.

What should I do if I have a Colles fracture?

When you have an injury, the faster you act, the faster the healing process will take place, and the more likely you will achieve a full recovery. It is also crucial to seek professional help right away. As with any fracture, putting off a professional diagnosis increases your risk of poor healing.

In general, you should immediately implement the R.I.C.E. method for fractures. Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation will help minimize swelling and the effects of the injury before you seek medical attention.

Head to the nearest All-Pro Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in any of our Florida locations for a complete diagnosis and treatment. Our specialists will provide you with Colles fracture treatment.

How will an orthopedic specialist treat my Colles fracture?

Fortunately, our clinics in Florida provide a Colles fracture treatment. The specialists will examine you and order an X-ray showing the break. If you have a fracture that needs more precise imaging, a CT scan might be necessary to see how severe the injury is.

In the case of simple breaks, a cast is used to protect the forearm and wrist from further damage. This allows the body to heal as the wrist lies in proper alignment in the cast.

Severe misalignments or fractures may require internal fixation. Our orthopedic specialists may place pins, screws, and plates to realign fractured bones. Malunion occurs when the bones are not aligned properly and begin to heal while out of alignment. Once the bones are correctly aligned, we will use a cast to start the natural healing process.