Colle's fracture is a wrist fracture which occurs within an inch of the wrist joint involving the forearm bone's distal end of the radius. The fracture runs transversely just above the wrist joint and displays this distal end of the bone more dorsally giving the wrist the classical 'dinner fork' deformity look.
Colle's fracture is named after Abraham Colles, an Irish surgeon, who first described the condition. Another name for this fracture is the 'Pouteau' fracture. It mostly results from a 'slip and fall' on an outstretched hand.
Usually the incidence goes up after the rains or after the first snow fall in winter when the roads are icy and slippery or. Typically, when people fall they try and prevent injury to their head or other parts of the body by putting their hands out to hit the ground first. A bad fall results in fracture of the wrist with bruise of the skin over it. As the bone is a living hard tissue it is supplied by blood vessels and nerves. This causes the fracture to be very painful.
Although this fracture occurs in all age groups it tends to be more common in two age groups - the elderly people and in children. In Children the bones are soft and supple and hence tend to bend easily. Here the fracture is usually incomplete while in adults it is a complete fracture. These fractures are also seen in menopausal women with osteoporosis, in whom it is second only to vertebral fractures.
Wrist arthritis can occur as a Colles fracture complication, either from cartilage injury, or from wear and tear in the joints after the fracture is healed. Carpel tunnel syndrome, characterized by numbness and tingling, may also set in after the fracture.