The ulna and radius are long bones of the forearm. The radius is on the thumb side and the ulna is on the side of the little finger. These bones articulate with each other near the elbow and wrist, forming the proximal and distal radioulnar joints, respectively. A Galeazzi fracture is a fracture at the lower third of the radius along with dislocation of the distal radioulnar joint. This is a rare type of fracture that mostly occurs from falling on an outstretched arm with the wrist rotated inwards.
A Galeazzi fracture is associated with pain, swelling and deformity at the site of the fracture and dislocation. This can lead to loss of motion and a condition called compartment syndrome where pressure reduces blood supply causing damage to muscles and nerves. Nerve injury could lead to loss of the ability to pinch using your thumb and forefinger.
When you present to the clinic with a forearm fracture, your doctor will review your medical history and the cause of the fracture. X-rays and CT scans are obtained to identify the fracture and amount of displacement as well as any dislocations at the wrist.
Non-surgical treatments including closed reduction and casting do not provide satisfactory results with this type of fracture. A Galeazzi fracture is usually treated by open reduction and internal fixation of the fracture or dislocation with wires, plates and screws followed by application of a splint for 1 to 2 weeks, and then a cast for 2 weeks. Bone graft may be used to repair severe fractures. Physical therapy should be started shortly after surgery to restore range of motion.