How Does a Broken Radius Happen?

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August 17, 2019
Edward Smith

How a Broken Radius Occurs

A broken radius is a bone fracture of the larger of the two bones that make up the forearm. Together with the ulna, the radius runs from the elbow to the hand. These two bones provide structure, mobility, and protection for the tissues of the arm. Like other bones, the radius can be broken in a traumatic accident. A bone fracture of the radius is actually the most common type of broken arm. If someone suffers a broken arm, they may end up missing significant time from work or school. In some cases, long-term complications might even result. Therefore, it is essential for everyone to know how a broken radius might happen.

Fractures of the Distal Radius are the Most Common

There are multiple places along the radius that someone might suffer a bone fracture. Perhaps the most common location is a fracture of the distal radius, which is often called a Colles fracture. The distal radius is the portion of the bone that is closest to the hand. A fracture of the distal radius takes place when someone falls on an outstretched hand.

When people fall, their natural reflex is to extend their arms in front of their body to protect the chest and abdomen. While this guards the body’s vital organs, it also places them at risk of suffering a broken radius. Fall injuries can occur on a wet floor, an icy sidewalk, or even while walking down a flight of stairs.

As the force is applied to the palm of the hand, the impact travels through the hand and into the forearm, causing a fracture of the distal radius. In general, the farther back people bend their hands when they strike the ground, the closer to the hand the fracture will occur. If they turn their hand back completely at the time of impact, the fracture will likely happen at the very end of the radius in a location called the radial styloid.

Watch YouTube Video: Distal Radius Fractures. This video provides an overview of distal radius fractures and everything you need to know about the injury.

A Midshaft Radius Fracture

In contrast to fractures of the distal radius, a midshaft radius fracture occurs in the middle of the radius. This type of broken radius typically occurs when a direct blow happens at the center of the bone. This occurs in several ways, such as:

  • Auto Accident: In a motor vehicle collision, drivers might strike the steering wheel or dashboard with their arm. The tremendous, blunt force applied to the middle of the forearm in an auto accident may lead to a fracture in the middle of the radius.
  • Competitive Sports: If people fall or are tackled at high speeds while playing competitive sports, they might land directly on their arm. Crushing the forearm underneath the weight of a body falling at high speeds may be enough to cause a midshaft radius fracture.
  • Physical Assault: Unfortunately, a physical assault may also lead to a fracture of the middle of the radius. People often use their arms to protect their heads. Blunt force trauma to the middle of the forearm can lead to a midshaft radius fracture.

A fracture of the midshaft radius is often seen with a fracture of the ulna. A direct blow to the forearm often catches both bones and can be diagnosed using an x-ray. In many situations, both bones have been displaced, and surgery is required to set them in place. The overall prognosis of this injury depends on whether or not the surgeon can restore the natural bend of both bones. The curved shape of these bones is critical for both the flexibility and range of motion of the arm. In many cases, individuals will end up making a full recovery.

Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer. A broken radius is the most common type of arm fracture. If you or a loved one has suffered a fracture of the radius, call me at (800) 404-5400 or (916) 921-6400 for free, friendly advice.

I’m proud to be a part of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum & of the Top One Percent, which is a National Association of Distinguished Counsel.

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