Colles fracture is a break in the wrist near the hand or the distal area of the wrist. It usually occurs after a fall on an outstretched hand.
Symptoms of Colles fracture
- Wrist pain
- Bruising at the wrist
- Tingling and numbness of the fingers
- Deformity of the hand and wrist
- The fingers become pale or there is difficulty in moving the fingers
- People suffering from Colles fracture have a history of a fall where they use their outstretched hands for the fall. It causes high impact trauma in younger persons and a lower impact trauma in an older adult with osteoporosis.
- Take plenty of rest and avoid moving the wrist as soon as the injury happens.
- If the pain is severe or looks deformed or the bone is sticking out, seek medical help immediately.
- Avoid eating or drinking anything even water if there is deformity of the wrist. The wrist needs to be put back in place by closed reduction. A closed reduction involves reducing a fractured bone without surgery which enables the bone to heal back together. This is done by a doctor with experience in performing the procedure.
- Wear a splint to prevent unnecessary wrist movements. The splint should be the same length as the forearm, wrist and hand. A ruler or folded length of a newspaper can be used as a splint. The fingers and the thumb need to be immobilized to protect the affected area.
- Wrap the splint and wrist using gauze and avoid wrapping it too tight to prevent cutting off the blood circulation in the area. Another alternative is using a scarf or bandanna.
- Apply an ice pack on the wrist. Wrap ice in a towel before applying on the area for at least 10 minutes and allow the skin to return to its normal temperature. Avoid placing the pack directly on the skin to prevent frostbite.
- Take the prescribed over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen to lessen the pain and swelling due to a fractured wrist.
- A cast is applied to the fractured wrist to put it in proper position for fast healing of the area for at least 4-6 week depending on the severity of the injury. While the area is under a cast, wear a sling for support to the area and prevent unnecessary movements.
- Elevate the affected wrist above the level of the heart at least for a week.
- Avoid performing strenuous activities while still healing.
- After the cast is removed, seek the help of the physical therapist for some rehabilitation exercises to regain the strength of the wrist and the surrounding muscles and also return the normal function of the wrist.
The details posted on this page on Colles fracture is for learning purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage fractures including a Colles fracture, enroll in a first aid course with one of our training providers.