The 4 Most Common Wrist Fractures

The 4 Most Common Wrist Fractures

The human wrist is one of the most complex body structures, consisting of a collection of ligaments, tendons, joints and bones. Unfortunately, its intricacy makes the wrist very prone to injuries, and it doesn’t require performing extreme sports to be at risk of a break. Even something as minor as a tiny wet spot on the floor, when unnoticed, may cause a slip and fall, breaking one of the wrist bones.

While there are many injuries that can occur with the wrist, certain wrist fractures are more common than others. The following are a few of those that are experienced most frequently:

1. Colles’ Fracture

Colles’ fracture is also known as a distal radius fracture. It occurs when the radius, which is the longer forearm bone on the thumb side, breaks at the end toward the wrist. The radius is one of the most common broken bones in the United States. The fracture commonly occurs due to falling on an outstretched hand or a direct trauma to the wrist, but there are several other causes of this fracture, including: age, osteoporosis, lack of calcium or vitamin D.

2. Smith’s Fracture

Smith’s fracture is sometimes termed a reversed Colles’ fracture. It also involves the distal radius, but there are some crucial differences between these two. The Colles’ fracture results from falling onto an extended hand, causing the broken bone fragment to be displaced dorsally, or toward the back. The Smith’s fracture, however, involves falling onto a flexed hand, contributing to displacing the broken fragment of the bone ventrally, or toward the front.

3. Barton’s Fracture

Barton’s fracture also involves the radius. We distinguish two types of it: dorsal and volar. It occurs when the base of the thumb breaks and either the dorsal or volar fragment of the carpal gets dislocated. This condition is often called a fracture-dislocation of the radiocarpal joint.

4. Scaphoid Fracture

Apart from radius and ulna, the shorter bone of the forearm, there are also eight carpal bones that form the wrist, arranged in two rows. One of them is the scaphoid bone which sits at the base of the thumb right above the radius. This small, bean-shaped bone is prone to fractures, yet it’s often hard to detect them; they are sometimes mistaken with wrist sprains. Untreated scaphoid fracture may lead to non-unions, avascular necrosis, and early arthritis.

Throughout our lives, slipping, tripping, and falling at some point are inevitable. All of them may result in a couple of bruises, but some may require immediate medical attention to ensure proper treatment and healing. To make an appointment or learn more about wrist fractures, contact us.