Colles’ fractures are common in an elderly population and a younger person as their bones are weaker.

What is a Colles’ fracture?

When your radius bone fractures which occurs at the part of the radius close to your wrist this describes a Colles’ fracture.

What causes a Colles’ fracture?

A fracture is most frequently caused by falling onto an outstretched hand. Your radius lies on the thumb side of your arm and makes a joint with the ulna. When you stretch out your arm and fall, stress is placed on the radius bone which is greater than the normal force it can withstand and a break may happen.

What are the symptoms of a Colles’ fracture?

There are several different symptoms of a Colles’ fracture and typically you will experience a rapid onset of intense, sharp pain in the wrist or forearm when the injury occurs.

Symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling in the hand, wrist or arm
  • Bruising
  • Loss of wrist mobility
  • A visible lump or deformity on the rear of your forearm near your wrist

How is a Colles’ fracture diagnosed?

Your physiotherapist can perform a full wrist assessment and conclude that you have a Colles’ fracture though a confirmed diagnosis of a Colles’ fracture can be made with an X-ray. If you suspect you have a Colles’ fracture it is important to seek medical advice as soon as possible.

What treatment can Farrell Physiotherapy offer for a Colles’ fracture?

The initial treatment for a Colles’ fracture is to have it reduced; this is where your doctor puts the broken bone in the proper position so the right healing can occur, if a fracture is very severe an open reduction external fixation is required to reduce the fracture. Once your fracture has been reduced it needs to be immobilised with a brace or cast so proper healing can take place.

Following surgery, your wrist can be very weak and stiff. Physiotherapy is important in order to make sure that you recover as quickly and best as possible and to prevent the injury occurring again.

Physiotherapy can include:

  • Joint mobilisation
  • Soft tissue massage
  • Taping or splinting
  • Passive and active range of movement exercises
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Electrotherapy e.g. ultrasound
  • Advice and education
  • Graded return to functional/sporting activity

Benefit of physiotherapy for a Colles’ fracture?

Physiotherapy is vital to ensure that your wrist returns to its pre-operative function in the shortest time period allowing you to get back to your activities of daily living or sporting as quickly as possible. The benefits you feel from physiotherapy will be based on your original symptoms and treatment goals.

Physiotherapy can assist with:

  • Reduced scarring
  • Improved range of movement
  • Improved strength
  • Decreased pain
  • Decreased swelling
  • Prevention of injury re-occurrence

If you would like to book an assessment or enquire further, please 01245 830280 or e-mail: