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What Is a Colles Fracture?

A Colles fracture is a crack in the large bone on the thumb-side of the forearm (radius) near the point where it connects to the wrist. This injury, which may cause the hand to tilt upward, is often referred to as a “broken wrist,” even though it involves an arm bone rather than the carpal bones in the wrist. Usually, the break results from a fall forward with the wrist extended to break the impact.

What does a Colles fracture feel like?

A Colles fracture often causes immediate, sharp pain that intensifies when the wrist is flexed. The pain may be accompanied by:

  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Deformity (the hand may be bent unnaturally upward)
  • Numbness (a sign of nerve damage that requires immediate medical attention)

How is a Colles fracture treated?

Treatment for a Colles fracture can vary depending on the extent of the injury and the patient’s lifestyle. The goal of treatment is to restore the broken bone to its proper position and prevent it from moving out of place. If the fracture is not displaced and the pain is tolerable, a splint may be worn for several weeks to immobilize the arm as it heals. For a relatively young or active patient, a hard cast may be a better option to help ensure full protection of the broken bone. To address a displaced or unstable fracture, surgery may be required, such as an open reduction procedure.

The fellowship-trained hand and wrist specialists at Advanced Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine of Houston, Texas, help each patient find an effective treatment plan using the most conservative approach possible. We offer a variety of treatment strategies – both conservative and surgical – for Colles fractures.

If you’d like to consult with an experienced orthopedist at Advanced Orthopaedics, contact us today. We have several offices located throughout the Houston, TX, area where you can turn for comprehensive Colles fracture treatment.