Colles' fracture is a transverse fracture of the radius (lateral forearm bone) just above the wrist, with backward displacement. It is the most common fractures in older people and occur highest in women after menopause. Although trauma causes the fracture, the increased risk is mainly due to osteoporosis in which the bone is weakened.
Usually the fracture occurs due to fall on the outstretched hand and there is pain, swelling and deformity just above the wrist. The deformity looks like a 'dinner fork' or 'bayonet'.
The Diagnosis can readily be made clinically, but an X-ray of the wrist is needed to confirm the fracture. Most fractures are angulated and displaced and require reduction of the fracture. The fracture is reduced by an orthopedic surgeon and an immobilisation plaster cast is applied, so that the fracture can heal in favourable position.
There after joints exercise is important for optimum hand function. Rarely an operation is needed to maintain the fracture fragments in adequate position.
Prevention of the Colles' fracture is desirable. It can be prevented by treatment of osteoporosis by taking calcium and vitamin rich foods such as milk, yogurt, cheese, fortified foods, egg yolk, meat. fish, soybeans etc.
It is important to avoid smoking and alcohol intake. Regular physical activity is very effective to make bone strong and maintain body balance. Other measures include taking calcium with vitamin D supplemental drugs and prevention of fall or trauma.
The write-up is compiled by Dr. Md. Abdus salam, Assistant Professor, National Institute of Traumatology and Orthopaedic Rehabilitation (NITOR), Dhaka.