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Fractures of the Distal Radius

White, Jennifer (Snyder) MSN, CNP, ONP-C

Section Editor(s): Ramponi, Denise DNP, NP-BC, FAEN, CEN; Column Editor

Advanced Emergency Nursing Journal: January/March 2013 - Volume 35 - Issue 1 - p 8–15
doi: 10.1097/TME.0b013e31827ef6e2

Distal radius fractures represent 1 of every 6 fractures treated in emergency departments (EDs) each year. This injury has a peak incidence within both the 5- to 24-year-old age group and the elderly female population aged 65 years and older. An understanding of the functional anatomy of the wrist fracture will greatly aid the practitioner in proper treatment and referral for these injuries. After obtaining wrist radiographs, a thorough examination must be performed. Once anesthesia is achieved (via hematoma block, sedation, or Bier block), the first line of treatment of distal radius fractures is to reduce the fracture and stabilize the bone alignment, even if it is expected that the patient will require surgical intervention. Up to 50% of patients are at risk of losing reduction, and 20%–50% of distal radius fractures will eventually require surgical fixation. Referral to an orthopedist can be made during the ED visit or done on an outpatient status.

Riverside Methodist Hospital, Columbus, OH.

Corresponding Author: Jennifer (Snyder) White, MSN, CNP, ONP-C, Riverside Methodist Hospital, 3555 Olentangy River Rd, South Medical Bldg, Ste 2010, Columbus, OH 43214 (

Disclosure: The author reports no conflicts of interest.

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.