Broken Wrist | Causes & Treatment | Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia | MedStar Health
health professional checking patient’s hand

A broken wrist or distal radius fractures are very common. In fact, the radius is the most commonly broken bone in the arm. The radius is the larger of the two bones of the forearm. The end toward the wrist is called the distal end. A fracture of the distal radius occurs when the area of the radius near the wrist breaks. There are different types of wrist fractures and some are more difficult to treat than others.

The most common cause of a wrist fracture is a fall onto an outstretched arm. Osteoporosis, which causes bones to become more fragile and likely to break, can make a relatively minor fall result in a broken wrist. Many distal radius fractures in people older than 60 years of age are caused by a fall from a standing position. A broken wrist can happen even in healthy bones, if the force of the trauma is severe enough.

A broken wrist usually causes immediate pain, tenderness, bruising, and swelling. In many cases, the wrist hangs in an odd or bent way.

There are many treatment options for a distal radius fracture. If the broken bone is in a good position, a plaster cast may be applied until the bone heals. Sometimes, the position of the bone is so out of place that it cannot be corrected or kept corrected in a cast. Because this has the potential of interfering with the future functioning of your arm, surgery may be required.