Colles Fracture - Causes, Symptoms, and Recovery Tips | Life Medical Centre

Colles Fracture: Causes, Symptoms, and Recovery Tips


Accidents happen when we least expect them, and unfortunately, a common outcome can be fractures. One specific type of fracture that often occurs due to falls is the Colles fracture. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the causes, symptoms, and recovery tips for Colles fracture. We will explore everything from the initial signs to the medical treatment options available, and conclude with essential information on prevention. If you or a loved one has recently experienced a wrist injury or Colles fracture, this article will serve as a valuable resource to help you understand the condition and guide you toward a smooth recovery.

Colles Fracture: An Overview

A Colles fracture is a specific type of wrist fracture that involves the distal radius bone, which is the larger of the two bones in the forearm. This fracture is often the result of an outstretched hand trying to break a fall, leading to excessive force on the wrist joint. The fracture typically occurs about an inch from the wrist joint, causing the broken bone to shift toward the back of the hand. This specific positioning is referred to as a "dorsally angulated" fracture.

Signs and Symptoms of Colles Fracture

Identifying a Colles fracture can be relatively straightforward due to its characteristic symptoms. Some of the common signs include:

  1. Pain and Swelling: Following the fall or traumatic incident, the affected wrist will likely experience pain and noticeable swelling.
  2. Deformity: A visual deformity might be present due to the dorsal angulation of the fracture, which can make the wrist appear distorted.
  3. Limited Range of Motion: Attempting to move the wrist can be painful and restricted due to the fracture.
  4. Bruising: The injured area might also show signs of bruising as a result of the impact.

Diagnosing Colles Fracture

When dealing with a wrist injury, especially one that exhibits signs of a Colles fracture, seeking medical attention promptly is crucial. Your doctor will use a combination of methods to diagnose the fracture, which might include:

  1. Physical Examination: A thorough examination of the wrist's appearance, swelling, deformity, and range of motion.
  2. X-ray Imaging: X-rays provide a detailed image of the bones, which helps confirm the diagnosis and determine the extent of the fracture.
  3. CT Scans: In some cases, a CT scan might be used to gain a more comprehensive view of the fracture's details.

Immediate First Aid for Colles Fracture

In the event of a suspected Colles fracture, it's important to provide immediate first aid while waiting for medical assistance. Follow these steps:

  1. Immobilization: Gently immobilize the injured wrist using a splint, cloth, or any available support to prevent further movement.
  2. Elevation: Elevate the injured arm to help reduce swelling.
  3. Ice Application: Applying an ice pack wrapped in a cloth to the injured area can help manage pain and swelling.

Medical Treatment Options

Depending on the severity of the Colles fracture, different treatment options may be recommended:

  1. Closed Reduction: For less severe fractures, a closed reduction might be performed, which involves manipulating the broken bone back into its correct position without surgery.
  2. Surgical Intervention: More complex fractures or cases with severe displacement might require surgery to realign and stabilize the bone using screws, plates, or pins.
  3. External Fixator: In some instances, an external fixator might be used to hold the bone in place during the healing process.

Managing Pain and Discomfort

Pain management is a crucial aspect of recovery from a Colles fracture. Your doctor might recommend:

  1. Pain Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers or prescription medications can help alleviate discomfort.
  2. Physical Therapy: Engaging in guided physical therapy can aid in restoring strength and range of motion to the wrist.

Preventing Colles Fracture

Prevention is always better than cure. Here are some tips to minimize the risk of a Colles fracture:

  1. Fall Prevention: Be cautious on slippery surfaces and use handrails whenever available.
  2. Home Safety: Make sure your living space is free from tripping hazards.
  3. Protective Gear: Wear appropriate protective gear while engaging in sports or activities that could lead to falls.


A Colles fracture can be a painful and inconvenient injury, but with proper medical care and guidance, a full recovery is entirely possible. If you or someone you know is dealing with a wrist injury or fracture, seeking medical attention from a specialized orthopaedic doctor is essential. At Life Medical Centre, we understand the challenges posed by such injuries and are committed to providing expert care tailored to your specific needs. Don't hesitate to book an appointment today with our specialized doctors. Call 043 44 1122 at Life Medical Centre and take the first step toward a swift and successful recovery. Your well-being is our priority.