ZocdocAnswersWhat is a distal radius malunion?

Question

What is a distal radius malunion?

I wiped out on my skateboard a while back, and the surgeon called it 'distal radius malunion'. What does that even mean? I just want to make sure I don't break it in the same way again.

Answer

Distal radius malunion is a common bone fracture. I recommend discussing your case with your orthopedic surgeon as there is occasionally interventions and follow up required. Firstly, the radius is a bone located in your forearm. It is on the thumb's side (with the ulna being the bone on the pinky side). Distal, is a term that refers to the further end of the bone--that is the portion near the thumb. When the distal radius is fractured, a few outcomes are possible. The term Colle's fracture is used to describe any fracture of the distal radius. This often happens when people fall on outstretched hands. Malunion refers to the fact that the bones are not aligned up properly after the fracture. In some breaks, the bone is fractured, but either end remains in place. In this case, simply letting it heal over time (while in a cast) allows for the bone to reconnect. However, there are cases where the bones do not reconnect--resulting in malunion. This might be because they are not in their normal place after a break but displaced from each other. This often causes "dorsal tilt" or angulation of the bone. This often requires surgical correction, otherwise the misaligned bones are weak and can interfere with wrist function. Talk with your orthopedic surgeon if you have further questions.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.