Pre-Operative Information

Distal Radius Fractures

Scheduling Your Surgery

  • Janelle will work with you on selecting a time and a place for your surgery. She will also do the necessary insurance verification, however it is a good idea for you to contact your insurance company and understand what your deductible will be for an elective surgery. Please contact Jen with any scheduling questions: (703) 810-5202, ext. 1424.
  • There is a brief video on our website,, with some educational information about your condition. Select procedure animations, then orthopaedics, then hand, then conditions and finally Colles fractures.

Pre-Operative Instructions

  • Depending on your age and medical history you may be required to have an EKG and or blood work pre-operatively. The anesthesiologist and the hospital require this. Depending on the facility these tests will have to be performed within 1-3 weeks of your surgery.
  • If you take Coumadin, Plavix or another anti-coagulant please be sure and let us know so we may coordinate with your Cardiologist or Internist about when to stop and restart your medication.
  • If you take Methotrexate, Humera, Enbrel or another medication for Rheumatoid arthritis please let us know so we may coordinate with your Rheumatologist when to stop and restart your medication.
  • You will receive a phone call from the hospital the day before your surgery confirming the time of your surgery.
  • Do not eat or drink anything after midnight, unless specifically told by the pre-operative nurse. You may take your prescription medication with sips of water.

Day of Surgery

  • You will be asked to arrive 1-2 hours prior to your surgery. Please wear comfortable clothing. Please remove ALL jewelry from the operative hand.
  • Please understand that the scheduled time of your operation is an estimation, there may be other surgeries before yours that take longer than planned. NO surgeries will be rushed to stay on schedule, including yours.
  • The surgery will likely be done under General Anesthesia. You must have someone with you to drive you home, NO exceptions. They do not have to stay with you during the procedure.
  • At Virginia Hospital Center and Commonwealth's Surgery Center it is possible to have a "block" in addition to the General Anesthesia. This is an injection given in your arm pre-operatively that will provide 24 hours of pain relief after the surgery. I highly recommend this if it is available.
  • The procedure takes about 60 minutes.


  • You will be monitored in the recovery room for about 2 hours, depending on how quickly you recover from the anesthesia.
  • You will be given a set of discharge instruction that the nurse will go over with you. You will also be given a prescription for pain medicine (usually Percocet) and an anti-nausea medicine (usually Phenergan).
  • Most people take the pain medicine consistently for about 1-2 weeks and then intermittently, particularly at night for 2-4 weeks.
  • You will be in a post-operative cast for 10 days, this will not be removable and will have to be covered when you shower.
  • If the surgery is on your dominant hand you may need help dressing and doing other daily tasks for about 2 weeks.
  • Please set up a post-operative appointment for 10-14 days after the surgery at which time the stitches will be removed, x-rays will be taken and you will be placed into a removable splint.
  • After your first post-operative visit you will be given a prescription for physical therapy. Most people participate in physical therapy for 4-6 weeks.
  • You may return to work whenever you feel ready. I recommend that patients take 1 week of off work, but depending on your job function this may be longer or shorter.
  • Generally the fracture heals in 6 weeks. However it takes up to 6 months to get your range of motion back. (Although most patients have about 90% of their motion by 3 months)
  • You may not drive while you are taking the narcotic medication. Once you are off of the narcotic pain medication driving is up to your discretion.
  • You may return to working out after your first post-operative visit. However you are restricted from any lifting with the operative hand for 6 weeks post-operatively.

Educational Videos