Colles Wrist Fracture, No Reduction Needed

You have a break (fracture) of the forearm bone (radius) where it attaches to your wrist. This type of fracture may be called a Colles fracture. The bone is not out of place and will not need to be set (reduced). But you will need a splint or cast. This fracture takes 4 to 6 weeks to heal. 

Home care

Follow these guidelines when caring for yourself at home:

  • Keep your arm elevated to reduce pain and swelling. When sitting or lying down, keep your arm above the level of your heart. You can do this by placing your arm on a pillow that rests on your chest or on a pillow at your side. This is most important during the first 2 days (48 hours) after the injury.

  • Put an ice pack on the injured area. Do this for 20 minutes every 1 to 2 hours the first day. You can make an ice pack by wrapping a plastic bag of ice cubes in a thin towel. As the ice melts, make sure that the cast or splint doesn’t get wet. You can place the ice pack inside the sling and directly over the splint or cast. Continue to use the ice pack 3 to 4 times a day for the next 2 days. Then use the ice pack as needed to ease pain and swelling.

  • Always keep the cast or splint completely dry. Bathe with your cast or splint out of the water. Protect it with a large plastic bag, rubber-banded at the top end or use tape. If a fiberglass cast or splint gets wet, you can dry it with a hair dryer.

  • You may use acetaminophen or ibuprofen to control pain, unless another pain medicine was prescribed. If you have chronic liver or kidney disease, talk with your healthcare provider before using these medicines. Also talk with your provider if you’ve had a stomach ulcer or gastrointestinal bleeding.

  • Don’t put creams or objects under the cast if you have itching.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider in 1 week, or as advised. This is to make sure the bone is healing the way it should. If a splint was put on, it will likely be changed to a cast during your follow-up visit.

You may have X-rays. You will be told of any new findings that may affect your care.

When to get medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • The cast cracks

  • The plaster cast or splint becomes wet or soft

  • The fiberglass cast or splint remains wet for more than 24 hours

  • Bad odor from the cast or wound fluid stains the cast

  • Tightness or pain under the cast or splint gets worse

  • Fingers become swollen, cold, blue, numb, or tingly

  • You can’t move your fingers

  • The skin around the cast becomes red or irritated

  • Fever of 100.4ºF (38ºC) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Shaking chills

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