Broken bones may seem like minor injuries. But half of all bone fractures require orthopedic surgery. This hospital care and treatment cost accident victims over $10 billion per year.
Broken bones can also take a toll on your quality of life. While you recover from a broken bone, you will need to limit your activities. After you heal, you might suffer long-term health problems like arthritis.
If you or a loved one has broken a bone, it is important to learn about this injury and the types of compensation you can seek for its effects.
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What Is the Function and Structure of the Musculoskeletal System?
The musculoskeletal system provides structure, movement, and strength to your body. The system includes bones and soft tissue.
Bones have a rigid structure built using minerals like calcium and phosphorus. The strength and rigidity of your bones provide a scaffold for your soft tissue.
The soft tissue includes the connective tissue that holds your skeleton together. It also includes the muscles and tendons that move your skeleton.
Bones are made of living bone cells. Bones have tiny passages through them so blood vessels can deliver the oxygen and nutrients these cells need.
In addition to providing structure for your body, bones play an important role in your circulatory system. The bone marrow in the center of most of your bones produces red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Red cells carry oxygen, white cells fight infection, and platelets clot when you get injured.
The blood vessels that feed your bone cells also pick up the new blood cells from the marrow. These new blood cells replace the old, worn-out cells removed from the blood by the spleen.
What Can Cause Broken Bones?
Bones break when forces overcome their inherent strength. These forces can take many forms, including:
Stress on your bones causes small cracks to form. With rest, these cracks heal. But if you repeat the stress without taking time to recover, the damage to the bones will accumulate. Eventually, the cracks will grow into a fracture.
Repetitive stress injuries often result from jobs where workers stand, walk, lift, carry, or perform other repetitive motions.
A sharp, quick impact can snap a bone. In a pedestrian accident, for example, the accident victim can fracture a bone in the initial impact from the vehicle and in the subsequent impact with the pavement.
Crushing forces usually take place over a large area. Some of the most common workplace accidents result from crushing forces, including falling objects and getting trapped in or between objects. Because crushing forces cover a large area, they can shatter bones into pieces or fracture multiple bones.
What Are the Classes of Broken Bones?
The nature of your broken bone helps doctors determine the treatment and prognosis. Doctors classify broken bones using three criteria:
Displaced or Non-Displaced
The first criterion looks at where the bone fragments ended up. If the broken pieces of bone remain aligned after the fracture, you have a non-displaced fracture. In a non-displaced fracture, your doctor will only need to immobilize the bone with a cast to protect it while it heals.
If the broken pieces of bone have moved out of alignment, you have a displaced fracture. Before stabilizing the bone, your doctor needs to realign the broken ends. If your doctor does not perform this step, your bone will either not heal, or it will heal crookedly.
Doctors can sometimes manipulate the bone into alignment without surgery by pulling, bending, or twisting the bone into place. Other times, they will operate. If you require surgery, your doctor may stabilize the bone internally by screwing plates or rods to it.
After realignment, your doctor will protect your bone with a cast or brace. A broken bone with only one fracture will usually heal in six to eight weeks. But the exact healing time will depend on which bone you broke.
Open or Closed
This criterion considers whether the broken bone caused an open wound. In a closed fracture, you have no open wound.
But if your broken bone was displaced so far that it pierced your skin, you have an open fracture. An open fracture, also called a compound fracture, will usually require surgery to realign the bone and close the open wound.
In addition to the extra treatment required, an open fracture poses a risk of infection. An infection happens when microorganisms enter your body through an open wound. The microorganisms reproduce and kill your cells. If the infection spreads to your bone, you can develop osteomyelitis.
The pattern of the break can determine your healing time. There are several different types of fracture patterns, such as:
A comminuted fracture happens when your bone shatters into three or more pieces. Your doctor will treat a comminuted fracture with surgery to reconstruct the bone. Comminuted fractures can take up to a year to heal.
An avulsion fracture happens when a small piece of bone breaks off with a tendon or ligament attached. As a result, you have both a fractured bone and a ligament or tendon injury.
Depending on the location, your doctor may operate to reattach the tendon or ligament. If this fracture happens in or near a joint, you may develop arthritis due to the additional wear in the joint.
What Compensation Can You Recover for Broken Bones?
You can seek compensation if someone else’s negligence caused your injuries. This compensation can include economic losses such as medical expenses, lost income, and diminished earning capacity from long-term disabilities.
Your compensation can also include your non-economic losses. Compensation for these losses covers all the ways your quality of life suffered as a result of your injuries. Examples of non-economic losses include physical pain, mental anguish, and inability to participate in activities.
Broken bones can interfere with your ability to work. In many cases, this can prevent accident victims from paying the medical bills for necessary treatment and physical therapy. To discuss compensation for medical expenses and other losses from broken bones in Griffin, GA, contact The King Firm for a free consultation. Call us at (404) 567-4546.