Wrist (Colles) Fracture

A Colles fracture is a fracture of the bones in the forearm near the wrist joint with a dorsal (posterior) displacement of the wrist and hand.

Falling on an outstretched hand usually during high-impact competitive sports most often causes these types of fractures.

The fracture is sometimes referred to as a “dinner fork” or “bayonet” deformity due to the shape of the forearm subsequent to the injury.

Though Colles fractures are usually seen in the younger population, they can also been seen in older individuals with osteoporosis due to weakening of the bones.

Symptoms include pain, swelling and deformity.

X-rays are taken to confirm the diagnosis and to visualize any other associated fractures. Sometimes an MRI may be considered to evaluate the wrist for concomitant injuries.

Management depends upon the severity of the fracture.

  • A non-displaced fracture may be treated with a cast alone.
  • A fracture with mild angulation and displacement may require manipulation to achieve normal alignment.  Subsequent to manipulation, casting is often required for a 4-6 week period of time.
  • When there is significant angulation and deformity, surgical intervention is often necessary.  This consists of manipulation to improve the overall alignment and then surgical fixation, either with a metal plate, screws or wires.

After a 2-4 week period of cast immobilization, this patient will return to full functional activities usually within 6-12 weeks, depending upon the severity of the fracture.

Alfred A. DeSimone, MD
Director of Sports Medicine
Board Certified Orthopaedic Surgeon