Distal Radius Fractures: New Guidelines

Distal radius fractures are among the most common fractures in the body, usually occurring as a result of a fall. The radius is the most commonly broken bone in the arm. Typically, these breaks occur when a person’s fall causes them to land on outstretched hands. Among younger people, distal radius fractures may occur via car, bicycle, and skiing accidents as well as other similar situations. Older individuals are at increased risk for these fractures if they have osteoporosis. Distal radius fractures in people aged 60 and older are frequently caused by falls from a standing position. Their decreased bone density can make relatively minor falls result in broken wrists. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), more than 261,000 emergency room visits in 2007 were caused by distal radius fractures. “These fractures are most commonly seen and treated in emergency departments, but follow-up of these patients is typically performed by primary care providers and orthopedic surgeons,” explains David M. Lichtman, MD. “Currently, there are many treatment options for managing patients with distal radius fractures, ranging from less invasive methods, such as cast treatment, to more invasive techniques, such as fixation devices. Physicians are often challenged by treatment decisions because there is relatively little evidence-based information to guide them along the way.”  A Deeper Look at the Evidence In December 2009, the AAOS approved and released an evidence-based clinical practice guideline on the treatment of distal radius fractures. Available at, it analyzed over 4,000 journal articles from around the world over 1 year. Each article was graded on a 5-point scale depending on strength and quality...