Smith's Fracture

Smiths Fracture

A Smith's fracture is a break in the end of the radius bone, at the wrist. The fragment of fractured bone is displaced forwards to the palm side of the wrist.

Smiths fracture symptoms

Symptoms of a Smiths fracture include sudden pain in the wrist after a fall or impact. There will be tenderness in the area of the fracture with pain and difficulty moving the wrist. The wrist may appear deformed with the hand appearing to be angled downwards. There will be immediate swelling and bruising may develop.


A Smiths fracture is a break in the end of the radius bone near the hand or distal end as it is known. It is similar to the more common Colles fracture except that a Smiths fracture occurs for an impact or trauma with the wrists flexed or bent with the palms down. It is named after the Surgeon Robert William Smith who lived between 1807 and 1873 and named it in his book published in 1847.

Smiths fracture treatment

If a fracture is suspected, sek medical attention. Don't try to move the wrist, just immobilize it in a sling. An X-ray is required to confirm the fracture. In some cases it may be possible to reduce the radial fragment (move it back into position) manually, without the need for surgery.

The arm is then immobilized in a cast for around 6 weeks whilst the bones heal. In the majority of cases, surgery is required to realign the fragment with the rest of the radius. The bones are then pinned in place and the arm casted whilst it heals as above. After the cast is removed, a rehabilitation program is required to regain full wrist mobility and strength.

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