A colles fracture is a fracture of the outside forearm bone (radius) just above the wrist joint. In most cases this fracture occurs when one falls on an extended (straightened) wrist. The force of their body weight leads to a fracture in the radius just above the wrist joint. It is particularly common in middle aged people as their bones begin to weaken.
Symptoms of a Colles fracture
• pain immediately
• there may be a loud pop or cracking noise
• swelling and tenderness on the outer side of the wrist
• inability to move the wrist or rotate the forearm
Diagnosis and treatment
An x-ray will confirm the presence and nature of a fracture. In most cases the fracture will be reduced (put back into place) and then immobilized in a cast. In some cases where the bone has broken into a few pieces surgery may be required to pin or plate them together.
Following surgery or immobilization physiotherapy will be required to gain back function of the wrist. Initially treatment may involve the use of electrotherapeutic modalities and gentle soft tissue techniques to reduce any swelling and pain. Gentle range of motion exercises and mobilizations would also be commenced. Overtime exercises and treatment would become more vigorous aiming to gain full strength and range of motion of the wrist.