Named for an anatomy professor in Ireland who wrote an important paper about it, a Colles fracture is a break of the distal radius. In other words, it is a fracture of one of the two bones in your forearm that occurs at the wrist. According to WebMD, nearly 10% of all fractures that occur in the United States involve the wrist, which means that Colles fractures are very common. A workplace accident in Wisconsin that involves a forceful impact to your wrist or a fall onto an outstretched hand may result in a Colles fracture.
Some of the symptoms of a broken wrist are similar to those of a sprain, including bruising, pain, swelling and tenderness of the wrist. Your doctor may need to perform an X-ray to determine whether the wrist is fractured or sprained. Another symptom that indicates a possible fracture is deformity of the wrist, i.e., an abnormally bent or crooked appearance. However, this is not conclusive in itself.
A particularly serious Colles fracture may result in torn ligaments, injury to nerves or blood vessels, tearing of the skin through which the bone protrudes or multiple fractures to the same bone. If any of these complicating factors are present, treating the fracture may become more difficult.
Otherwise, treatment of a Colles fracture may require immobilization in a cast for several weeks or months. However, it is not always possible to apply a cast when the wrist is swollen. This means that your doctor may initially place you into a splint until the swelling goes down.
The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.