How to treat Distal Radial Fracture


How to treat Distal Radial Fracture

Have you fallen over recently onto an outstretched hand and now suffering from a sore, swollen, or bruised wrist?

You may have a break in the radius (one of the long forearm bones) of your wrist, the most common fracture site of the upper extremities.

What is a distal radius wrist fracture?

At your wrist joint are two bones from your forearm and when you fall onto an outstretched hand the wrist is often hyperextended and an intense amount of force transfers to these bones.

When this blunt force comes into contact with a hard surface, the distal end of your radius bone is commonly fractured.

Most distal radius fractures occur as isolated injuries in younger groups playing sports who sustain a high-energy fall, and elderly populations with varying stages of osteoporosis who take a low-energy fall.

Osteoporosis is a relatively common condition and can make a relatively minor fall result in a number of broken bones. Many distal radius fractures in people older than 60 years of age are caused by a fall from a standing position.

Symptoms of a distal radius fracture can include:

  • Sharp and intense wrist pain sometimes accompanied by the sound or sensation of a snap during the fall
  • Immediate swelling and tenderness of the wrist that continues to get worse
  • Numbness and/or inability to move the wrist, hand and grip and squeeze
  • Bruising of the wrist and forearm

Rehabilitation by a physiotherapist is recommended following a wrist fracture

Without effective rehabilitation, loss of strength and function in the wrist and surrounding areas is more common. Treatment of distal radius fractures will depend on your individual health, functional needs, and the extent of injury sustained.

First up, an examination includes an assessment of your motor and sensory function, paying particular attention to sensation in the thumb and index fingers because acute median nerve compression is common, especially with severely displaced fractures.

Your physio will then assess range of motion of the wrist, elbow and shoulder joints including supination, pronation, flexion, and extension in order not to miss any associated injuries.

What is the treatment for a distal radius fracture?

Immediately following the event, it is important to follow PRICE principles:

  • Protection of the injured area,
  • Rest and decreasing swelling through
  • Ice,
  • Compression, and
  • Elevation.

Physiotherapy is best used once the fracture is healed, using activity in the hand to strengthen the muscles and ligaments associated and increase range of motion.

Your physiotherapy sessions can be designed to meet any specific functional demands that are required by your occupation or activities at home, and can be undertaken as a tele-health appointment at a time that suits you.


  • Push through your pain
  • Do strong gripping or heavy lifting activities
  • Drive
  • Play contact sport

Before you have undergone a full period of healing and rehabilitation.

The COVID-19 pandemic shouldn’t derail your rehabilitation and physiotherapy goals. For more information on telehealth physiotherapy and the services available, contact Lane Cove Physio on (02) 9428 5772 or at