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Smith's Fracture


Updated January 25, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.


A Smith’s fracture is a break in the end of your radius (forearm) bone near the wrist. This typically occurs after falling onto your outstretched arm and landing on the back side of your hand and wrist. The end of the radius breaks off and then is pushed to the front side of your outer wrist.

If you fall onto your outstretched arm and land on the palm of your hand, your radius may break and move to your inner wrist. This is called a Colles’ fracture.

Common symptoms of a Smith’s fracture are:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Deformity in the front of your forearm near the wrist
  • Loss of motion in the hand and wrist
  • Bruising in the hand or wrist

If you have suffered trauma to your wrist or hand and suspect you have a fracture, you must call your doctor immediately or report to your local emergency department. Diagnosis of a wrist fracture is made by simple x-ray.

Physical therapy for a Smith’s fracture and a Colles’ fracture will focus on decreasing pain and swelling and improving hand, wrist and elbow range of motion and strength. Improving arm use and function is also an important component of your physical therapy program after a Smith’s or Colles’ fracture.


Hertling. , & Kessler, R. (2005). Management of common musculoskeletal disorders:physical therapy perinciples and methods. (4 ed.) Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Also Known As:

Distal Radius Fracture

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