For many people, a broken bone is a serious injury. However, most people fully recover from a broken bone in about six weeks. While there can be severe pain at the time of the fracture, the pain goes away after a few days and rarely recurs.
Some cases of broken bones can lead to complications, including death. Moreover, some fractures heal incorrectly and cause ongoing problems like pain and weakness.
Here are the things you should understand about broken bones and some of the ways a bone fracture can affect your life.
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How Do Broken Bones Happen?
Bone fractures can happen as a result of two different forces: impact stress and repetitive stress.
Sometimes, the fracture results in a visible displacement. But bones can also fracture in less obvious ways that require an X-ray for identification.
Repeated stress on your body can cause stress fractures. These develop over time due to repetitive motions. For example, a job that consists of lifting and carrying objects all day can lead to stress fractures in the feet.
Stress fractures usually appear as cracks in the bone and require an X-ray to diagnose.
What Are the Different Types of Fractures?
Bones do not always fracture in the same way. The way a bone fractures can affect the course of treatment and the prognosis for recovery.
Some common types of fractures include:
A complete fracture separates the bone into at least two pieces.
A partial fracture does not go completely through the bone.
A displaced fracture is a complete fracture where the bone pieces separate. Displaced fractures often require surgery to close the gap between pieces of the bone so that they heal correctly.
In a comminuted fracture, the bone shatters. These fractures might require reconstruction with plates, screws, and bone grafts.
An avulsion fracture happens when a ligament or tendon tears and pulls off a piece of bone. Although it sounds severe, avulsion fractures can often heal with rest and physical therapy.
What Are the Side Effects of Broken Bones?
Broken bones have many effects, some of which might seem unconnected to the fracture. Some of the complications that can occur due to a fracture include:
One of the characteristics of broken bones is pain. Bones provide structure for soft tissues and support for the body. When a bone fractures, the nearby tissues lose their support. Nerves generate pain signals as the tissues move out of place. Muscles spasm as they try to hold the body together without the support of the fractured bone.
The body’s natural reaction to trauma is swelling. Swelling happens when the body rushes fluid and white blood cells to the injured tissue to repair the damage and prevent infection.
As fluid pushes into the area, it compresses the damaged tissue causing pain and reducing tissue flexibility. Unchecked swelling can slow down healing and cause permanent loss of motion.
Bruising and Bleeding
The fractured bone might tear muscle and blood vessels. An open, or compound, fracture also punctures the skin. As a result of this tissue damage, you might bleed and bruise near the fracture.
In most cases, the bleeding and bruising may look terrible but will heal over time. In a few cases, the fractured bone may tear blood vessels, depriving the tissue that surrounds the fracture of oxygen. Bleeding near a fracture may even cause shock or death.
The fractured bone can also compress or sever nerves near the fracture. The damaged nerves will not carry nerve signals normally.
This can cause many symptoms, including:
- Numbness or tingling
- Loss of sensation
- Motor difficulties
- Nerve pain
Doctors can sometimes repair nerve damage with surgery. But in many cases, nerve damage due to a fracture might not justify the risk of surgery. Instead, you might need to live with the effects of the damaged nerves.
Fractures can lead to the formation of blood clots. These blood clots form because swelling near the fracture constricts blood flow. This increases the risk that the blood will clot.
During recovery, doctors often immobilize the area near the fracture. The pressure from the cast and the lack of circulation from bed rest can lead to blood clots.
If a blood clot forms, it can travel to the lungs, the heart, or the brain, leading to a serious injury or death.
How Are Broken Bones Treated?
In most cases, broken bones can heal with immobilization, rest, and anti-inflammatory medication. Although these kinds of injuries may require a visit to the emergency room, most patients will leave a few hours later with a cast or brace and a prescription for pain medication.
Stress fractures are treated similarly, although doctors might simply order rest and anti-inflammatories and forgo immobilization.
Occasionally, fractures may require surgery to repair. Surgery allows the physician to ensure the bone pieces align correctly and heal straight.
The surgeon might secure the pieces of bone with plates and screws. If pieces of bone are missing, the surgeon might replace them with a bone graft taken from elsewhere in the patient’s body or a donated bone.
Broken bones generally take a few weeks to a couple of months to heal. During that time, you will need to minimize the stress on the bone. This might require you to give up sports and exercise and take on light-duty tasks at work.
What Kind of Compensation Can I Recover for Broken Bones?
When you suffer a broken bone due to a preventable accident, you can recover compensation for your past and future medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. Since broken bones may require you to miss work for a few days to a few weeks, you might need injury compensation to make ends meet.
If your broken bone results in permanent disability, you can also claim your diminished earning capacity. For example, a fracture near a joint might cause arthritis in the joint. This arthritis might force you to retire from your job or switch to a lower-paying job. You can claim the difference in income among your damages.
Contact a Gainesville Personal Injury Lawyer For Help
Contact the team at Allen Law Firm, P.A. to discuss the compensation you might be able to claim for broken bones caused by someone else’s negligence.
Our Gainesville personal injury lawyers offer free consultations for prospective clients.