Often, a distal radius fracture is the first sign that underlying bone health is suboptimal. Women who sustain a low-energy distal radius fracture are 5 times more likely to sustain a vertebral fracture and twice as likely to sustain a hip fracture during their life. For men, studies have shown that those with a history of distal radius fracture have a 10-fold increased risk for vertebral fractures.
Classic history and presentation: A woman older than 65 years with osteoporosis or osteopenia who presents with a FOOSH injury after falling from a standing height.
Prevalence: Distal radius fractures are the most common type of adult fracture, making up about 17.5% of all fractures in the United States.
- Age – There is a bimodal distribution among the age groups that tend to sustain these fractures: youth and young adults with high-energy sports injuries, and older adults with osteoporotic fractures.
- Sex / gender – Distal radius fractures are more prominent in men with a high-energy mechanism of injury during middle adulthood. In late adulthood, this is more prominent in women, with a fivefold increase in rate of fractures among women when compared to men older than 65 years due to the bone density changes that occur in women following menopause.
Grade / classification system: There are numerous classification systems. The most commonly used when discussing distal radius fractures include:
- Colles fracture – Extra-articular distal radius fracture with dorsal displacement and associated ulnar styloid fracture.
- Smith fracture – Extra-articular distal radius fracture with volar displacement.
- Barton fracture – Volar or dorsal "shear" fracture with associated volar or dorsal lip and dislocation of the radiocarpal joint.
- Chauffeur's fracture – Radial styloid fracture.
- Die-punch fracture – Intra-articular. Involves the lunate facet portion of the articular surface.