According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, one of the most common causes of fractures is trauma from things like motor vehicle accidents, sports, and falls. The extreme force of a significant car accident can crack or shatter bones. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you might recuperate in a matter of months, or you might face years of pain, repeated surgeries, and loss of mobility and function.
Symptoms of Broken Bones
Broken bones from a car accident usually cause a great deal of pain, but sometimes this symptom has a delayed onset. In other words, some people can walk around with broken bones for a day or two before they start to hurt. It is essential to know the other signs of fractures if you have been in a significant collision.
Get medical attention right away if you experience pain or any of these symptoms after a motor vehicle accident:
- Swelling or tenderness around the area of impact
- A limb that appears to be “out of place”
- Part of the bone piercing the skin
- The inability to move an area of your body
- Pain when you try to move
Treatment Options for Bone Fractures
Your doctor will need to find out if the bone pieces are lined up correctly for proper healing and function. You will likely need to have x-rays, an MRI, or some other type of imaging test performed so that your physician can “see” what the situation is inside your body. Sometimes surgery is necessary to realign broken bones from a car accident.
Treatment options for fractures include:
- Cast immobilization, using a plaster or fiberglass cast. A cast is the most common form of treatment for broken bones. The rigid structure will protect the injured area and keep the bones in proper position during the healing process.
- Brace or functional cast. Sometimes people can use a device that allows limited movement of nearby joints instead of a traditional cast. When a brace or functional cast is appropriate, you will lose less muscle mass because you will be able to move around more while healing. As a result, your physical therapy after the cast or brace removal is usually of shorter duration than with some other treatment options.
- Traction uses a gentle but steady pulling action to get bones back into alignment slowly.
- External fixation involves the surgical placement of metal pins or screws into the broken bone on both sides of the fracture and connecting the pins or screws to a metal bar or frame on the outside of the body to stabilize the bones while they heal.
- Open reduction and internal fixation. Your doctor will perform surgery to reposition (also called reduce) the bones into proper alignment, then hold them in that position with screws, rods, or metal plates attached to the bones.
Types of Fractures
Bones can take damage in many different ways. Since the treatment your doctor will use to stabilize the bone and help it to heal will depend, in large part, on the type of fracture you have, here are some of the more common types of broken bones from a car accident:
- Stable fracture. These simple breaks are also called “clean” fractures. Think of two jigsaw puzzle pieces in which the interlocking edges line up and have very little space between them.
- Open, compound fracture. These breaks involve something penetrating the skin. Either the blow itself breaks the skin, or the bone goes through the skin. Sometimes the bone retreats such that you can no longer see it sticking out of the tissue.
- Transverse fracture. If the fracture line is horizontal, you have a transverse fracture.
- Oblique fracture. If your fracture line is at an angle, as opposed to horizontal, you have an oblique fracture.
- Comminuted fracture. When your bone shatters into three or more pieces, you have a comminuted fracture.
What to Expect When Recuperating from Broken Bones
You might have to wear a cast or other device for several weeks or months while managing the trauma of broken bones from a car accident. Even when you stop hurting, your bone is likely not yet strong enough for ordinary daily activities. You might have to endure weeks or months of limited activity to protect the bones from further damage.
People often have to undergo weeks or months of physical therapy to rebuild muscle strength and regain their flexibility, range of motion, and function after such a long period of immobilization. Make sure that you complete the prescribed rounds of therapy to achieve as much healing as possible.
While many broken bones from car accidents eventually heal and leave few lasting effects on a person’s daily life, some people experience chronic pain, nerve damage, arthritis, and loss of mobility from these traumatic fractures.
How to Get Legal Help After a Car Accident
The car accident team at S. Burke Law can help people who sustain injuries from collisions. We handle these cases on a contingent fee basis, which means that you do not have to pay upfront legal fees. We get paid at the end of the process, out of the settlement proceeds or award.
When we take care of your legal matters, you can focus on your health and well-being as you manage the trauma of broken bones from a car accident. Call us today at 404-842-7838 for a free consultation.