Colles Fracture | Physio4Life

Colles Fracture

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Colles Fracture




The two long bones in the forearm are called the radius and ulna.  During trauma such as falling onto an outstretched hand, excessive forces can be placed through the end of the radius where it connects with the thumb side of the wrist.  If these forces are larger than the end of the bone can cope with, a fracture or break will result.


This is very common in all age groups, but certain patterns are noticeable in different age groups. It typically occurs from a fall on an out stretched hand.  In the older patients, the injury is common due to a drop in bone density (the bone is a bit weaker than normal).  Younger patients may well be involved in contact or high impact sports.  With that the forces involved are much higher than a simple fall, and can very possibly lead to this injury.





  • Often following fall onto an outstretched hand
  • Pain in the wrist and hand
  • Associated swelling and bruising will be present but can vary (how much and how painful) from case to case.
  • Pain on gripping and moving the wrist




Clinical questioning will highlight the history of trauma and presence of acute pain and swelling over the injured area.  This will be enough to hilly suspect the condition.  Clinical testing will involve palpation (touching) of the painful site and moving the wrist joint.


If a fracture is clinically considered to be the cause of your pain, and X-Ray will help to confirm the diagnosis.  Depending on the severity of the injury, the X-Ray may indicate different approaches to treatment.






Due to the usual traumatic nature of this injury, if a fracture is suspected, you should go straight to hospital to get an X-Ray.  If the fracture has occurred, the wrist will need to be immobilised in a plaster cast for approx 6 weeks.  Sometimes depending on the severity of the fracture and the alignment of the boney ends, surgery may be required to ensure proper healing of the fracture site.


Once out of cast, physiotherapy will focus on wrist and hand strengthening and mobilising exercises to help regain functional use of the hand and return to your chosen activity.

Manual therapy can help aid the progress of the exercises too whilst releasing any local joint stiffness and soft tissue tightness.  The manual therapy can also help with the pain along with acupuncture and general massage.








Put an ‘X’ next to each health professional that most commonly deals with this injury.

i.e. tennis elbow would be Physio and Medic as injections are common, whereas for muscular LBP it would be Physio and not Medic as they would just refer them to a Physio.

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