Colles Fractures

Colles fractures are injuries that commonly occur when a person falls and lands on their outstretched hand. First described in 1814 by an Irish physician named Abraham Colles, these fractures can manifest when the wrist bends backward, referred to medically as extension. Thankfully, a qualified physician can diagnose and treat Colles fractures, enabling many patients to recover fully from this type of condition. 

What are the Causes of Colles Fractures?

As noted previously, Colles fractures often develop as a result of falling on an outstretched hand. When a person falls and attempts to brace themself with a hand, the resulting impact can force the wrist to extend too far and, thus, fracture. 

Colles fractures also commonly develop in patients with osteoporosis. This disease causes bones to degrade, particularly in elderly people. As bones continue to degrade, fractures become increasingly more common. 

What are the Symptoms of Colles Fractures?

When a patient sustains a Colles fracture, the common signs and symptoms can include:

  • Pain, particularly when attempting to move the wrist;
  • Bruising, swelling, and inflammation in the wrist;
  • Crooked or bent deformity in the wrist; and
  • Inability to rotate, extend, or flex the wrist.

In certain cases, a Colles fracture can also result in nerve damage. If the broken bone presses or impinges on a nerve, it can produce numbness and even throbbing pain.

How are Colles Fractures Diagnosed?

Given the complexity of Colles fractures, diagnosis can be a multifaceted process. A doctor will usually start with a physical examination, inspecting the injured wrist and testing for painful symptoms. 

After the physical examination, a doctor will ordinarily conduct imaging tests — such as an X-ray — to get a full picture of the fracture. If there is any indication of nerve damage, however, a doctor may need to conduct additional tests. 

What is the Treatment Process for Colles Fractures?

The treatment process for Colles fractures can be an involved and lengthy process. Consequently, a doctor should handle this process and recommend an appropriate treatment plan. Patients who attempt to self-treat a Colles fracture can inadvertently make their injury even worse. 

Armed with a full diagnosis of a Colles fracture, a doctor will usually:

  • Reset the broken wrist, if the bone is out of place or misaligned;
  • Apply a splint to the wrist, if there is too much swelling for a cast initially;
  • Administer a cast to the wrist to immobilize the joint for proper healing; and
  • Monitor the healing process and adjust as needed. 

Depending on various factors, such as the severity of injury and patient medical history, the recovery process for a Colles fracture can be a few months or more than a year. To help facilitate the healing process, many patients benefit greatly from comprehensive physical/occupational therapy

Are You Suffering from a Colles Fracture?

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of a Colles fracture, it can be greatly valuable to consult with a trusted orthopaedic doctor. At the Orthopaedic Associates of Riverside, our doctors are certified at the board level with a unique focus on orthopaedic conditions, including Colles fractures. To obtain professional medical treatment for a Colles fracture, conatct us today!

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