What are distal radius fractures?

The radius is the major bone in the forearm that makes up part of the wrist. A fracture or break in the distal radius generally occurs secondary to trauma, commonly from a fall from a standing height, but in some cases with higher energy. These fractures can be simple two-part fractures, but in some instances, the bone can fracture in multiple places. These breaks can lead to significant deformity and loss of function.

What are the symptoms of distal radius fractures?

Patients develop immediate pain and swelling and there can be a visible deformity or prominence of the fracture end under the skin. There can be associated damage to the nerves. The patient will have limited use of the wrist in the acute phase and continued pain and potentially poor function until the fracture heals.

How is it diagnosed?

It is diagnosed by taking a careful history and performing a detailed examination. There are potentially other associated injuries of bones in the hand or the forearm, which the clinician will carefully exclude. Assessment will be made to ensure that the associated nerves and vessels have not been injured. X-ray, and CT imaging in selected cases, can be useful to exclude other potential injuries and to further assess the fracture particularly in cases where surgical management is required.

How is it treated?

Treatment begins with symptomatic management using pain killers, a sling, and a brace or plaster cast for support and to immobilise the fracture.

The displacement of the fracture, the location and the degree of trauma associated help to guide the decision regarding the need for surgery. The demands of the patient both for their occupation and for sporting activities are a key component of making this decision.

The location of the fracture will guide treatment and options for non-operative management include removable splints, and plaster treatment following a controlled reduction of the fracture either under local or general anaesthetic.

Surgical treatment can be with either percutaneous pins or open reduction and internal fixation with metal plates and screws. This allows for the best chance of achieving a stable fixation which facilitates early full range of movement.

Surgery can provide the patient with a more predictable and earlier return to work and sporting activities. It can also lead to decreased pain, improved range of movement and function when indicated.  Postoperative physiotherapy is an essential component to optimise outcomes from surgical treatment.

If you or someone you know has suffered an injury or is experiencing pain in their shoulder or difficulty with moving the shoulder, arm or elbow and would like a consultant-led review, please contact us. Grosvenor Orthopaedics have extensive experience in the treatment of ACJ injuries with excellent patient outcomes.


Grosvenor Orthopaedics have extensive experience in the treatment of should & elbow -related injuries with excellent patient outcomes.


If you would like to learn about other shoulder & elbow conditions click the button below to find out more


If you would like to learn about other shoulder & elbow treatments click the button below to find out more

our specialist shoulder and elbow consultants

Shoulder and Elbow care at Grosvenor Orthopaedics is led by our consultant surgeons Mr W James White and Mr David Butt, both graduates of London medical colleges. They bring extensive experience to Grosvenor Orthopaedics having worked across Guys NHS Trust and the world renowned Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital.

Our team have broad experience in the successful treatment of a range of shoulder and elbow problems, addressing both young and sports related injuries as well as those relating to trauma, disease process and genetics.

Patients who choose Grosvenor Orthopaedic Partners for their treatment will receive some of the best care available in the UK. Our team are leading consultants across London’s shoulder and elbow clinics and offer specialist care to our private patients through King Edward’s Hospital, HCA Lister and other major private hospitals in central London.

Our team are well placed to manage and treat a diverse range of shoulder and elbow problems utilising cutting edge diagnostic technology and treatment approaches, both surgical and conservative. Below is an overview of some of the conditions we treat but for a more thorough understanding please contact our team here


Consultant Shoulder and Elbow Surgeon

FRCS(Tr&Orth), MBBS, BSc(Hons)
James is a Consultant Shoulder and Elbow Surgeon, practising at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, King Edward VII’s, The Lister Hospital Chelsea and HCA Chiswick Outpatient Clinic. His practice encompasses all aspects of shoulder and elbow surgery including arthroscopy, arthroplasty and trauma. He has a reputation as a thorough clinician, effective communicator and skilled surgeon. Through joint decision-making with the patient and utilising non-operative techniques where possible, he achieves the best possible outcomes for patients. When surgery is required, James has excellent outcomes based on his precise and prepared approach to operating.


Consultant Shoulder and Elbow Surgeon

FRCS(Tr&Orth), MSc, MBBS, BSc(Hons)
David is a Consultant Shoulder and Elbow Surgeon, practising at the world-renowned Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital Stanmore, King Edward VII’s Hospital and One Hatfield. His practice involves all aspects of shoulder and elbow surgery, from minor injuries to complex reconstructive procedures. He strongly believes in shared decision making and a patient-centred approach to treatment. He is a meticulous surgeon using up to date and evidence-based techniques to treat every patient’s individual needs.

What some of our patients say

Mrs JS

Thank you to the whole team for getting me back on my feet again