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Rehabilitation

REHABILITATION AFTER
COLLES' FRACTURE

SÜKRÜ AYDOG*
DILEK KESKIN*
BEHICE ÖGÜT*

SUMMARY: Colles' fracture is a common type of injury. In order to improve hand, wrist and elbow functions
appropriate rehabilitation program should be applied soon after the orthopedic intervention. In the present
study, physical treatment was given to 55 patients with Colles' fracture. The treatment procedure consisted of
physical exercise and paraffin application. We compared pretreatment and post-treatment degrees of flexion,
extension, radial and ulnar deviation, supination and pronation of the wrist. We achieved satisfactory results
following physical therapy of the wrist. Rehabilitation program is of utmost importance in Colles' fracture so
it should be applied soon after the orthopedic manipulation.
Key Words: Colles' fracture, rehabilitation.

INTRODUCTION
The extension fracture occurring 2 cm below the Flexion fracture of forearm is called as Smith' frac-
radioulnar joint is referred to as Colles' fracture. It is a ture or reverse Colles' fracture, where distal fragment
very common injury, where the styloid of ulna is broken is angulated volary. It is rarely seen. Open and close
in approximately 50% of the patients. The X-ray reduction techniques produce similar results in treat-
roentgenograms reveal fork-back deformity on the lat- ment of Colles' fracture.
Reflex sympathetic dystrophy, lesion of the n. medi-
eral view, whereas the distal part of the joint is laterally
anus and m. abductor pollicis longus, luxation of the
displaced on the dorsal aspect. Pronation and supina-
radioulnar joint are the complications of both types of
tion of the wrist is very restrictive and painful (1,2).
fractures. Epyphysolysis can be observed in young
The conservative treatment consisting of closed
adults and it interferes with bone growth (1,2,4). Reha-
reduction and application of circular cast brace below
bilitation is of spectacular importance in Colles' frac-
elbow to metacarpal joint for a period of 6 weeks gives ture.
promising results. Operative treatment is indicated for The aim of the present study was to evince the
patients with widely displaced fractures or with loss of importance of the early rehabilitation program in
reduction and mobility to reestablish joint congruity by patients with Colles' fracture.
closed treatment. Cast brace of forearm is applied for 6
weeks (1,3). MATERIALS AND METHODS
Our study included 55 outpatients (25 males, 30 females)
* From Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation, Ankara attending to Ankara Numune Hospital with Colles' fracture.
Numune Hospital, Ankara, Türkiye. The mean age for male and female was 39 ± 26 and 37 ± 12

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REHABILITATION AFTER COLLES' FRACTURE AYDOG, KESKIN, ÖGÜT

respectively. Routine laboratory tests and x-ray roentge- ation and open reduction with internal fixation. How-
nograms were made in all patients. ever, the best therapeutic option still remains contro-
All patients were treated by closed reduction and the
versial. Immobilization of the wrist in Colles' fracture
application of an below dorsal elbow cast immobilizing the
consists of three different ways; immobilization in
wrist in 20° palmar flexion and in 20° ulnar deviation for 6
weeks.
palmar flexion, neutral position and dorsal flexion.
Physical treatment was applied for all patients 7-8 weeks When the wrist is immobilized in palmar flexion, stiff-
after the Colles' fracture had occurred. All patients were ness seems likely to occur in fingers especially in the
treated with paraffin for 15 minutes and exercise for 15 min- metacarpo-phalangeal joints (5-8).
utes Flexion, extension, radial and ulnar deviation, supination Axial shortening may be the result of Colles' frac-
and pronation of the wrist were recorded before and after the
ture. Warvick et. al. demonstrated a correlation
physical examination.
between shortening of the radius and functions. Lind-

RESULTS strom and Smail found no change in functions after 3

-Flexion of the wrist after physical treatment months (7,9,10).

increased significantly compared to pretreatment Axial shortening in the radius is one of the major

degrees (p<0.001). complications in Colles' fracture. 1-2 mm shortening

-Extension of the wrist after physical treatment usually occurs. Minor relative shortening of the radius

increased significantly compared to pretreatment alternates the axial forces passing through the wrist to

degrees (p<0.001). a marked extent (7,11-13). Shortening of the radius is

-Radial deviation of the wrist after physical therapy the most significant radiographic finding one week after

increased significantly compared to pretreatment the reduction. Bacorn and Kurtzke supported this idea

degrees (p<0.001). and they demonstrated impairment of disc functions of

-Ulnar deviation of the wrist after physical treatment the joint. Involvement of radio-ulnar joints indeed

increased significantly compared to pretreatment results in weakness of grip functions rather than loss of

degrees (p<0.001). range of motion. The greater is the shortness in radius,

-Supination of the wrist after physical treatment the greater is the chance of developing weakness in

increased significantly compared to pretreatment grasping function (12-14). In our study shortening of

degrees (p<0.001). the radius was observed in 18 patients.

-Pronation of the wrist after physical treatment The physical therapy program of the Colles' fracture

increased significantly compared to pretreatment consists of muscle strengthening, recovery of range of

degrees (p<0.001). motion, wound healing and scar adhesion. Early reduc-

When the wrist functions of the patients were com- tion of oedema is of primary importance in determining

pared for sex and age, no correlation was noted hand functions. Elevation of the hand higher than the

between pretreatment and post-treatment values heart and active range of motion exercises were

(p>0.05). Wilcoxon test, Correlation Analysis, Mann- instructed to facilitate the pumping action of hand mus-

Whitney-U test (for sex) and Student's t test (for sex cles to decrease swelling.

and age) have been used for statistical analysis. Flexion and extension movements of the hand 15
minutes for each are rendered. The hand is kept in both
DISCUSSION cold and hot water in order to augment venous return.
Colles' fracture is frequently encountered in clinical Exercises help decrease musculotendinous stiffness
setting. A wide variety of methods have been and joint capsule contractures. The joint should be kept
described, including reduction and immobilization of in neutral position. Heating and paraffin application are
the wrist and forearm in various positions, external fix- also necessary. The hand is wrapped up with paraffin

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REHABILITATION AFTER COLLES' FRACTURE AYDOG, KESKIN, ÖGÜT

for 20 minutes of treatment. Exercise programs seek 2) Grasp,


strengthening both extrinsic and intrinsic muscle 3) Target occurrency,
groups of the hand (6,15). 4) Activities of daily living.
Scarring or tendon adhesion often complicates Activities of daily living consists of writing, turning
progress in rehabilitation. Deep transverse friction over cards, manipulating small objects, simulated
massage is very useful in improving mobility of the scar eating, stacking checkers, manipulating large light
tissue and increasing range of motion. Exercise pro- objects, manipulating large heavy objects, toileting,
grams are very important in rehabilitation. Exercise dressing, grooming, buttoning, shoe lacing, buckling,
programs consists of passive range of motion, trans- burdening.
verse scar massage, progressive resistive exercise, All patients were treated with a long wrist elbow
massage and active range of motion exercises. Exer- plaster splint. This causes release of swelling and
cise combining shoulder-elbow and thumb range of oedema. Finger exercises begin just following the first
motion should also be included in the program. Treat- day of operation. Long wrist elbow plaster is used for
ment also may include graded active motion, clinics one week after operation (3,21).
and home activities and splinting. Functional status in our study is evaluated accord-
Activities include the 'Wall walking' with the fingers, ing to the wrist range of motions and grasp strength.
bilateral paper ripping, circular 'dusting', simple 'black- There was no correlation between age and functional
board writing' and drawing tasks, various opposition capacity (21).
and pinching exercises. These activities are graded
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