Broken Wrist

The radius is a long bone of the forearm ending on the thumb side of the wrist. A "distal radius" fracture, or a "Colles'" fracture is the most common fracture of the wrist.

What is a Broken Wrist?

The radius is a long bone of the forearm ending on the thumb side of the wrist. A "distal radius" fracture, or a "Colles'" fracture is the most common fracture of the wrist.

Typically suffered by those who are older than 60, and more often by women than men, a broken wrist is caused by falling onto an outstretched hand. There are four patterns of breaks in distal radius fractures;

  • I, extra articular non-displaced
  • II, intra articular non-displaced
  • III, extra articular displaced
  • IV, intra articular displaced

Displaced fractures of the radius are more severe than non-displaced fractures and intra articular fractures are more severe than extra articular fractures. In each case there will be pain, swelling, inflammation, loss of movement and clicking crunching sounds with movement.

It is important to get your broken wrist diagnosed by a professional so that you can manage your condition correctly. Dr Manish Gupta is a wrist expert and will help you determine what type of broken wrist you have and what type of treatment is right for you.

Emergency Broken Wrist? You need a Wrist expert!

If you suspect you may have a broken wrist, you have an emergency condition and need to see an expert fast.

Dr Manish Gupta is a qualified wrist & hand expert and available to help you with your emergency wrist condition. Book an emergency consult online by using our special booking form.

Symptoms of a Broken Wrist

A Broken Wrist may exhibit the following symptoms;

  • Severe pain 
  • Obvious deformity of the wrist
  • Swelling and inflammation
  • Loss of movement of the wrist and possibly thumb and fingers

What Causes a Broken Wrist?

A broken wrist may be caused by:

  • Breaking a fall with your hand
  • Direct trauma

The wrist is typically a non weaight bearing joint, which means direct impact injuries often lose their force as the wrist moves with the impact. This situation changes, however, when a fall to the ground is interrupted by reaching out with the arm to break the fall. When this occurs, the wrist can no longer dissipate the impact of the force upon contact and a break may occur at the wrist.

Fall Injuries

Women over 55 are most susceptible to broken wrist due to a fall. Men aren't far behind and increasingly suffer wrist fracture over 55yrs.

Direct Trauma

You may get your hand and wrist caught by a closing door or under a heavy box as it falls.

Diagnosing a Broken Wrist

To diagnose a broken wrist, the consultant will question the patient to:

  • Understand the nature of the injury (sports, work, accident, overuse etc)
  • Determine the cause of the injury (impact, collision, fall, repetitive/slow onset)
  • Understand the context of the suffering (age, return to sport, work, impact on daily living)
  • Perform a physical examination to ascertain pain and stability
  • Perform specialised wrist tests to confirm diagnosis

Distal Radius Fracture

A broken wrist will present with the following positive signs;

  • Injury caused by a fall onto an outstretched arm
  • X-Ray confirming distal radius fracture
  • Painful and swollen over the wrist of the patient
  • Deformity of the wrist
  • Loss of movement to the wrist

Since the severity of the type of broken wrist may vary, it is important to see a specialist to diagnosis it correctly. Breaks which are confirmed as intra-articular or displaced fractures are serious conditions which need careful management. 

If you have sustained a broken wrist, you have a serious condition which needs expert consideration. Dr Manish Gupta is a wrist and hand expert and can quickly diagnose your condition to determine the right care for you.


Treatment of a broken wrist should always begin with a thorough diagnosis of your condition to understand the severity of the condition in the context of your age, your sport, your work and your life.

Non Surgical

Broken wrists which are not intra articular and are not displaced may be treated non-surgically.

  • Rest and immobilisation for 6 weeks
  • Pain and anti-inflammatory medication
  • Physiotherapy rehab protocol


ORIF stands for Open Reduction Internal Fixation and refers to a using a surgical plate and screws to repair and immobilise a broken bone.

Post Op Rehab Protocol

Dr Gupta uses a clinically proven rehabilitation process for each of his operative procedures. Find out more about our broken wrist rehab on our Post-Op Wrist Reduction Rehab Protocol Page.

If you do not wish to risk serious wrist injury, it is important to see a wrist & hand expert quickly.

Dr Gupta uses a systematic approach to diagnosis and treatment to help you return to the activities that you love. Contact Dr Gupta on 02 9687 8344 or make an online booking here.