The radius is the bigger of the two bones in the wrist. Distal radius fractures are among the most common fractures across all age groups. The most common cause of this type of fracture is a fall onto an outstretched arm. There can sometimes be deformity if the fracture displaces.
Surgery is usually avoidable if the alignment of the fracture is acceptable, or if it can be restored with manipulation. After the bones are properly aligned, a splint is placed on the arm. Usually the cast is removed after 6-8 weeks.
Surgery is necessary if the fracture is poorly aligned or can’t be held in an acceptable position using a splint or cast. Fractures that heal in poor alignment can limit function of the arm and put you at risk for developing arthritis. The alignment of the bone is improved surgically and held in place with plates or screws.
Most people can return to normal activities after a distal radius fracture, but each person responds to the injury differently. The most common problem after a distal radius fracture is stiffness of the wrist or fingers.
Distal radius fractures can be a sign of osteoporosis, a disease of progressive bone loss. It is important to be evaluated by your primary care physician for osteoporosis to potentially treat or prevent future fractures.