Distal Radius Fracture

A distal radius fracture is a common bone fracture, making up to 25-50% of all broken bones of the forearm. Because of its proximity to the wrist joint, this injury is often called a wrist fracture.

What you might be feeling

An x-ray is needed to examine the wrist and determine the treatment. Treatment is either closed reduction (relocation) and casting for 6 weeks, or surgery if the joint surface is damaged, severely displaced or the radius is very short. Healing may take up to two years, although most tasks can be resumed at 12 weeks following the fracture.


The most common cause is falling on an outstretched hand (“FOOSH” injury).


  • Pain
  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Loss of movement
  • Loss of sensation due to injury of the median nerve at the wrist.
  • Ligament injuries in the wrist may occur.

What to do

While the fracture is healing in the cast, it is important to keep the fingers flexible. After removal of the cast, a hand therapy program may be required to mobilise the wrist.

  1. Swelling is often an issue and needs to be addressed with a RICE (rest, ice, compression, exercise) program.
  2. Active range of movement exercises for the wrist, forearm, fingers and thumb.
  3. Passive range of movement exercises to address joint stiffness
  4. Strengthening of the hand, wrist and arm
  5. Restoring fine motor coordination and function

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