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Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1986 May;(206):202-10.

Long-term results of conservative treatment of fractures of the distal radius.


The long-term results of the conservative treatment of wrist fractures were observed in a follow-up study of 297 cases over a period of one and one-half years to six years. The evaluation of the results was based on clinical parameters, both subjective and objective, as well as radiological features. The results were: excellent in 38% of cases, good in 49%, fair in 11.5%, and poor in 1.5%; considerably worse were the subjective results (20% fair to poor). No statistically significant relation could be found between results and type of fracture. Clinical deformities and pain in the area of the distal radioulnar joint were frequent. Decrease in grip strength was observed in 17.8% of cases. A limitation of wrist movement was not frequent. Numerous compressive neuropathies were found (41 in 35 patients), especially of the median nerve. The values relative to the three radiographic parameters under investigation (that is, radial deviation, volar tilt, and radioulnar index) were often found to be out of the normal range. The comparative study of postreduction and follow-up radiograms show the loss of reduction to be frequent, especially as far as the volar tilt is concerned. The frequent radiologic deformities are associated with significantly bad results only in cases of extremely abnormal values. However, fractures of the distal radius are not to be underestimated. Long-term results following conservative treatment may not be as acceptable as is generally assumed.

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