Radius fracture

What is a radius fracture?

It is worth mentioning that the radius is the larger of the two bones of the forearm and the end on the wrist side is called the distal end. This type of fracture is very common, in fact, we are talking about the bone that suffers the most fractures in the arm. This type of fracture can occur in many different ways. One of the most common is the Colles’ fracture, which occurs when the broken fragment of the radius is displaced upwards.

There are other types of fractures such as:

  • Intra-articular fracture: this is a fracture that also affects the inside of the wrist joint.
  • Extra-articular fracture: it consists of a fracture that does not affect the interior of the joint.
  • Open fracture: occurs when the broken bone manages to break the skin tissue, when this occurs it is called an open or exposed fracture. Because of the severity of this fracture, you will need immediate medical attention before infection of any kind occurs.
  • Comminuted fracture: This type of fracture occurs when the bone breaks into more than two pieces.

The type of fracture is very important in diagnosis because the difficulty of interventions depends on the type of fracture. The most difficult types of fractures to treat are: intra-articular fractures, open fractures, comminuted fractures and fractures with displacement.

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Prognosis of the disease

The evolution of the recovery of this injury depends on the severity of the fracture. In younger children the prognosis is generally good, their recovery after a radius fracture is good and therefore conservative treatment, without the need for surgery, usually passes without complications. On the other hand, professional treatment with subsequent physiotherapy treatment can make great strides towards complete recovery of wrist function. During the first days of recovery, simple activities with the hand can be performed, however excessive efforts and rapid movements without damping should be avoided. Recovery after a radius fracture usually takes half a year.

Example of an x-ray of a radius fracture

Symptoms of a radius fracture

When a person suffers a radius fracture it usually causes immediate pain, pain on palpation, bruising and swelling. Physically, the wrist may be seen hanging and appears dislocated or twisted. Among the most common symptoms of radius fracture are the following:

  • Intense pain on palpation
  • Hematoma
  • Swelling
  • Deformity

Medical tests for radius fracture

The condition of the visible damage must first be diagnosed through a thorough medical examination, including possible skin lesions and damage to nerves and blood vessels. The physician will then examine the nearby joints to check for dislocation. A description by the patient can help the practitioner diagnose the exact type of fracture. A more accurate diagnosis can be made by an X-ray of the wrist at two levels, from above and from the side, so that the physician can indicate the type of radius fracture as precisely as possible. Finally, in order to make a correct diagnosis, it is necessary to determine if it is a stable fracture or if it is unstable, that is to say that the fracture has damaged some ligaments.

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What are the causes of radius fracture?

The most common cause of radius fracture is a fall on the arm. Generally the radius is broken in an area close to the wrist. The two main causes of fracture are Colles’ fracture and Smith’s fracture:

  • Colles’ fracture: this is the most common form of fracture with a percentage of almost 90%. It consists of a fall with the palm of the hand open, therefore it is better known as an extension fracture.
  • Smith’s fracture: it is caused by a fall with the hand flexed, it is commonly referred to as a flexion fracture. Distal radius fractures of this type are usually unstable.

Children and the elderly are the people who suffer most from this type of injury. In the case of children, they usually break their forearm while playing. Older people, on the other hand, have a weak bone mass and falls occur and end up with a radius fracture very easily. In addition, at advanced ages, osteoporosis spreads, which favors the cause of accidents that end with a radius fracture.

Can it be prevented?

The best way to prevent radial fracture is to avoid falls and to wear specialized protective clothing in some sports such as inline skating. In elderly people, it is also important to detect possible osteoporosis as early as possible and to carry out preventive treatment, with the aim of avoiding future radius fractures.

Treatments for radius fracture

Treatment depends on several factors such as age, type of fracture and the patient’s activity. In order to recover the normal movement of the hand, conservative or surgical treatment can be performed. It is important to emphasize that most fractures recover correctly after 6 to 8 weeks. Therefore, as there are different types of fractures and treatments, the recovery time is variable.

  • Conservative treatment: it is to stabilize the fracture by means of a splint in those fractures not displaced.
  • Surgical treatment: by means of an operation, a plate is embedded in those fractures that have been displaced.
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Which specialist treats it?

A radius fracture must be treated by a specialist in Traumatology. You can find the doctor who best suits your needs in the Top Doctors medical directory.