Colles Fractures

Colles fracture is a break of one or both of the forearm bones (called the radius and ulna) that occurs just above the wrist. Although this type of injury can be caused by any strong force, Colles is most often associated with trying to break a forward fall.

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Colles Fractures

Colles Fractures


A Colles fracture occurs when one or both of the forearm bones (the radius and ulna) breaks just above the wrist. This fracture most often happens when one tries to break a forward fall..

Breaking a Fall

A person who falls forward usually tries to break the fall by extending the hands and arms to lessen the impact of hitting the ground.

The Fracture

The force caused by combining the pressure of hitting the ground and supporting body weight can cause the forearm bones to break just above the wrist. This is known as a Colles fracture, also called a buckle fracture.


Colles fractures typically cause pain and swelling just above the wrist and make it difficult or impossible for the injured person to hold or lift heavy objects.


Nonsurgical treatment options include immobilization by a cast or splint, with recovery lasting from six to twelve months. Colles fractures that cause bone fragments or splintering will require surgery.  Open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) surgery uses screws, pins, and plates to hold the bones together so they remain aligned and can heal.

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