Distal Radius Fractures

The radius is a bone in the forearm. The end near the wrist is called the distal radius. When someone breaks their wrist it is often the distal radius bone that is fractured.

Distal Radius Fractures

A common cause of wrist fracture is a fall, especially in older people with weak bones. A strong impact, such as a motor vehicle or sports accident, can cause more severe fractures.

While some fractures are stable enough to be treated with a cast or splint other fractures will need surgery to restore and hold the alignment of the bone.

Symptoms of a Distal Radius Fracture include:

  • Pain and swelling are common
  • Visible deformity if bones are displaced
  • Difficulty moving hand
  • Numbness in fingers

Diagnosis may involve:

  • An examination
  • X-Ray
  • CT scan to look at the surrounding muscles, nerves, ligaments and tendons


Serious fractures, where the bone is displaced and/or unstable, might require surgery. There are various devices that may be used to fix the bone including pins, screws, rods and external fixation. For example, a metal implant, called a Volar Plate, may be used to stabilise the fracture. The surgeon makes an incision and realigns the bone. Screws anchor the plate to the bone. The wound is then sutured and the wrist bandaged or put in a cast.

Post operative care

Most patients are encouraged to move their fingers after surgery. Hand therapy will help to recover strength and a range of motion. However, as distal radius fractures are varied and treatment options broad, recovery will be different for each individual. Dr Kenny can advise you on your recovery program and when you will be able return to your usual activities.


Recovery time varies. Most patients will have some stiffness in the wrist which will improve. Some injuries may cause permanent residual stiffness and ache.