Smith’s Fracture

A Smith’s fracture is a break at the wrist end of the radius bone. It is caused by direct trauma, such as falling onto an outstretched hand.

Symptoms

  • Symptoms of a Smith’s fracture include sudden pain in the wrist.
  • 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.

What is Smith’s fracture?

A Smith’s fracture is a break at the end of the radius bone near the hand (distal end). It is similar to the more common Colles fracture, except that a Smith’s fracture occurs from trauma when the wrists are bend (flexed) with the palm 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.

The fragment of fractured bone is displaced forwards to the palm side of the wrist. If you suspect a Smith’s fracture you should try not to move the injured wrist. Medical help is needed as soon as possible to treat the fracture.

Treatment

  • If a fracture is suspected, seek 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 (move back into place) the bone fragment manually, without the need for surgery.
  • The arm is then immobilized in a cast for around 6 weeks whilst the bones heal.

Surgery

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 cast 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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