Distal radius fracture types seen in the hand therapy clinic 

Distal radius fractures are one of the most common injuries seen in hand therapy. Several different distal radius fracture classification systems have been developed, and this blog post will focus on the more common types of distal radius fractures and their classification.  

Extra-articular fractures are either nondisplaced or displaced fractures. These fractures occur outside of the joint.

Similarly, Intra-articular fractures can be displaced or nondisplaced but occur within the joint. 

Many fractures are named based on their fracture location, fracture pattern, and type of displacement. 

Colles fractures are the most common type of distal radius fracture and account for about 90% of distal radius fractures. A Colles fracture is an extra-articular fracture with a dorsal displacement. These fractures occur from a fall forward on an outstretched hand.  

A reverse Colles fracture is also known as Smith’s fracture. This is also an extra-articular fracture that is volarly displaced. These types of fractures are caused by falling backward and an outstretched arm.   

Another type of distal radius fracture is a Barton’s fracture. This is an intra-articular fracture and is associated with a dislocation of the radio-carpal joint. A Barton’s fracture can be described as volar (more common) or dorsal (less common).  

A die punch fracture is a depression fracture of the lunate fossa of the distal radius fracture that occurs with a vertical load through the lunate. These are often overlooked and not part of the classification system. 

A Chauffeur’s fracture is also known as a radial styloid fracture or a Hutchinson’s fracture. This fracture is classified as an articular fracture. It was initially called a Chauffeur’s fracture because when the chauffeur would turn the crank to start the car, the motor often would cause the crank handle to jerk back. 


  1. Cheryl Reed on July 18, 2022 at 8:11 am

    Thank you so much! I always enjoy your informative blogs and have learned a great deal. Your effort is very much appreciated!!!

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