A very common wrist fracture. A Colles Fracture is a fracture of the radius bone of the forearm close to the wrist, resulting in an upward (posterior or dorsal) displacement of the radius and obvious deformity. Usually after a fall onto an outstretched hand. It’s not always easy to detect a fracture of the distal radius, as it can be deceivingly disguised. A clear sign of a complete colles wrist fracture is a step sign that’s as obvious as daylight on an X-ray, but may be hidden to an untrained eye. It’s a low energy impact fracture with a dorsally displaced segment, meaning backwards.
A colles fracture accompanies abnormally high pain for the seriousness of the fall. The pain perceived from a minor incident is out of proportion with the velocity and force of falling onto your hand. You might think, it’s nothing, yet, days later the pain doesn’t seem to ease up, in fact it just gets worse. Due to the nerve running very close through the wrist, angulation and displacement or shifting of the fractured pieces, stretches and pulls on the median nerve producing Carpal tunnel syndrome type symptoms, but much more intense. To distinguish between the two, pure Carpal tunnel evolves over time, and a Colles fracture starts after a specific accident or fall. A Colles fracture’s pain is constant, as the traction on the nerve is never relieved.
The biggest long term problem with treatment after a Colles fracture with or without surgery is wrist stiffness, it is the ultimate nemesis. Regaining full use of your hand is our target. The faster we intervene, the higher odds of success. We want to stop it, before it even happens.