Bone Fracture - Personal Injury Lawyer – Compensation Claims
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A fracture is a bone that has been broken. There are many forces involved in fractures—lateral forces, torsional forces, and the like. Bones can be completely fractures or only partially fractured in a variety of ways, such as crossways, lengthwise or in a number of different pieces. The average person has two fractures during their lifetime.
The risk of fracture depends somewhat on age. They are common in childhood but are simpler than adult fractures. The other age group that has a high risk of fractures is the elderly, who have more brittle bones than young adults.
The main types of fractures are the following:
- Displaced—this refers to the way the bone bends so that the two fragment ends are not together.
- Non-displaced—This refers to a bone that is not out of place.
- Open—this refers to a fracture in which fracture fragments have gone through broken skin.
- Closed—this means the fracture is enclosed within the skin.
- Comminuted—this means there are several bone fragments.
- Greenstick fracture—this is an incomplete fracture in which the bone is bent but does not break.
- Transverse fracture—this is when the fracture is at right angles to the bone’s axis.
- Impacted fracture—this is one in which the bone fractures are pushed against one another; in children it is sometimes called a buckle fracture.
- Pathologic fracture—in which the bone is broken in part because it is diseased
- Stress fracture—it occurs because the bone is overused.
One can determine the severity of a fracture by looking at the damage to the bone, its location and damage to nearby tissue. If a serious fracture is not promptly treated, there can be a loss of circulation, a loss of innervation and a loss of devitalized tissue. Infection in the bone is possible, particularly in open fractures. The time It takes to recuperate depends on the person’s age and on the health of the bone and surrounding tissue. The patient’s health is important as well. Minor fractures in children can take just a few weeks to heal, while a serious fracture in an elderly person may take many months to heal.
The severity of a fracture usually depends on the type of force applied to the break. If the breaking point has been exceeded only a little bit, then the bone may only crack. Extreme forces, such as motor vehicle accidents may cause the bone to become an open fracture or at least seriously displaced.
Open fractures are the most serious because they carry the risk of osteomyelitis or a bone infection. This can take many months of antibiotics to heal. The wound itself gets infected as well.
The causes of fractures include trauma, such as from a fall, a motor vehicle accident, a football tackle or an occupational injury. They can also be caused by osteoporosis, which is a disorder where bones are weakened by disease so they are more likely to break. Overuse of the bone an cause the bone to break. This can happen in marathon running in particular. Stress fractures can occur in other kinds of athletes as well.
Common symptoms of fractures include pain at the fracture site, inability to move the fractured area, tenderness and swelling around the area of injury, bruising, deformity of the limb or having a piece of bone sticking out of the skin.
When you see the doctor, he or she will do an evaluation to assess your overall health and will assess the extent of the injury. He will check to make sure you have innervation and circulation past the point of injury. X-rays are very important because they provide the clearest images of the bone. X-rays can show what kind of fracture it is. In rare cases, an MRI can be done or a CT scan of the extremity to properly see where the two bone fragments or multiple bone fragments are aligned in 3 dimensions.
The treatment of a bony fracture depends on one thing: getting the broken pieces put in their proper place until they heal completely. The doctor sometimes just has to place a cast. In other situations, the bones must be put back together again by means of “reduction”. Reduction can be open or closed, depending on the type of fracture. The broken bones knit together with new bone helping the broken parts stay together.
If surgery is necessary to fit the bones together, the procedure is called an “open reduction”. Whether you have an open or closed reduction depends on the type of fracture and its location. Certain bones always get an open reduction, while other bones get a closed reduction.
The simplest treatment of a broken bone is called a cast immobilization. In such cases, the bone may need a closed reduction (or not) and a cast encircles the extremity firmly enough to make sure the bones do not move until it can knit together. Casts are placed for approximately 6 weeks or more. In a functional cast or brace, the knee or other joint is allowed to move while the bone heals. This is desirable for some fractures but not for others.
Traction is sometimes used for those fractures that naturally want to shorten due to the pull of muscles on the bones. It supplies a gentle pulling action on the joint in order to put the bones in alignment.
External fixation involves drilling screws or pins into the broken bone above and below the fracture site and a metal bar is placed to fix the bones in place. It provides a stabilizing frame that holds the bones together while it heals. It is often done when the tissues around the bone are too damaged to tolerate a clean open reduction.
An open reduction and internal fixation is a common operation in orthopedic surgery. It involves doing surgery to locate and align the fracture fragments. Then various techniques are used to make sure the bony ends stay together. Doctors can use plates and screws above or below the fracture point to allow the bones to knit together with the help of the fixation. The plate and screw remain in the body forever unless there is some kind of complication. Rods can be used in the intramedullary space to hold the fracture ends together. An intramedullary nail can also be used in place of a rod.
Recovery from a fracture can be several weeks or several months, depending on the type of injury and the method of treatment used. It is always important to follow the doctor’s instructions as to when you can use the extremity, with or without the treatment. The pain usually resolves itself long before the fracture is actually healed so it is easy to cheat on the doctor’s advice, which is not recommended.