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Transverse wrist fracture; Dinner-fork deformity of the wrist
Colles' fracture is a break across the end of the main bone of the forearm (the radius). A Colles' fracture causes the wrist to become extended and shortened.
Wrist fractures are common among children and the elderly.
Fractures that are not severe may be placed in a splint and sling, or a lightweight, fiberglass cast.
If the bone is no longer straight because of the fracture, it must be reduced (straightened).
Older people with Colles' fractures often fail to regain full mobility of the wrist joint. Carpal tunnel syndrome may occur as an early or late complication of the injury. Chronic pain may result from injury to the ligaments or the joint surface of the wrist.
This injury usually occurs when a person attempts to break a fall by throwing the hands and arms out in front of them. The hands meet the ground with the body weight behind them. The radius and ulna (the bones in the forearm) may buckle or break just above the wrist.
This injury is more likely to happen during sports such as rollerblading, skateboarding, running, or any other activity in which a forward fall can occur while a person is moving at a higher speed.
Bones become more brittle (from osteoporosis) in adults ages 50 - 60 and older. Older adults are more likely to fracture a bone, even while walking slowly.
Woolfrey KGH, Woolfrey MR, Eisenhauer MA. Wrist and forearm. In: Marx JA, ed. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 48.
Mercier LR. The forearm, wrist, and hand. In: Mercier LR, ed. Practical Orthopedics. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2008:chap 7.
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