Accident related and traumatically induced orthopedic injuries generally
involve damage to the structure and/or function of components of the musculoskeletal
system. This can involve bones, tendons, ligaments and related structures.
This may include sprain/strain, fractures, tendonitis, crush injury, and/or
degenerative of joint and other structures. Injuries can range from mild
to severe and catastrophic. Injuries may be temporary or permanent. Conservative
treatment or major surgery may be required. The nature and degree of any
traumatically induced injury can depend on the age and health of the person
involved. For example, an elderly person may have no symptoms of degenerative
body changes, which become painful and symptomatic when an injury occurs.
Often insurance carriers try to blame a victims resulting injury on preexisting
problems when in fact the accident event caused a cascading of physical
problems that the victim would not have experienced but for the accident
event. The most common causes of such injuries are motor vehicle accidents,
falls, defective products, recreational injury and industrial accidents.
Proper evaluation of orthopedic injuries generally requires the skills
of a highly trained and competent medical specialist called an orthopedist.
In addition to their clinical ability, proper evaluation may require proper
x-rays, cat scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound, nerve
conduction studies, bone scans, or other diagnostic tools.
Treatment may include surgery, physical therapy such as electrical stimulation,
ultrasound, laser therapy, and special exercises, and medication
A fracture in the bone is a break that can either be complete (bone is
completely separated) or incomplete (bone is broken but not completely
separated). Fracture sites may also be closed (skin is not broken over
the fracture area) or open (where the broken bone has punctured the skin,
causing a wound or the injury resulting in the fracture also resulted
in a cut to the skin). Broken bones are often as a result of some type
of force or trauma to the area. Motor vehicle accidents, being hit by
a car, falls or sports related injuries all might exert enough force to
result in a fracture or broken bone.
Elderly accident victims are at higher risk for sustaining a broken bone
due to the changes in their bone density. They are also more prone to
developing bone diseases (i.e. bone cancer, tumors) which also increases
the risk for bone fractures. Children are less adapt to sustaining a fracture
in comparison to adults due to their incomplete bone density formation
and the flexibility of their bones.
People who have suffered from a broken bone often complain of pain at the
site of the break. There is usually some swelling present. A person may
also indicate that there is tenderness to touch over the affected area.
You may be able to see the deformity of the broken bone and bruising.
Treatment of broken bones includes assuring the appropriate alignment of
the bones (may need to be realigned by a physician) and then splinting
the area. The time a person must wear a splint depends upon the bone broken
and the extent of the injury. Occasionally, especially with open fractures,
a person may be required to go the operating room for surgical repair
of the bones). If the fracture is severe, rods, plates and screws may
be required to surgical repair the broken bones. Accident victims may
require assistive equipment such as crutches, walkers and slings to assist
them after the casting of their broken bone. Physical therapy may also
be required, dependent upon the injury and healing time to ensure adequate
muscle strength and joint flexibility. Pain medications and muscle relaxers
are often prescribed to assist with complaints of pain and muscle spasms.
Complications of broken bones include a failure of the bones to heal appropriately,
blood loss from the broken bone, and infection if the injury resulted
in an open fracture.
A sprain is a stretched or torn ligament around a joint. (Ligaments connect
bones together) Sprains most often affect ankles, knees, wrists, shoulders
and fingers; however, any joint can be sprained. Sprains usually occur
due to trauma to the specific area. This can include falling, twisting,
contact sports and/or motor vehicle accidents. Ankles are the most frequently
sprained joints as a result of their exposed position and the stress it
sustains during activities. Accident victims who have sustained a sprained
joint may develop pain or tenderness in the affected area, swelling, bruising
and discoloration of the area, and/or loss of normal mobility. Some people
may be able to use the affected joint (i.e. continue to walk) but this
would only occur with pain. Immediate swelling and development of bruising
are significant signs of sprains. Sprains are often classified as mild,
moderate or severe. Mild sprains result is some pain and mild swelling
whereas moderate sprains result in pain, swelling and the inability to
use the affected area for several days. Accident victims with severe sprains
have suffered from a tearing of the ligament. Symptoms of a severe sprain
may include pain, swelling, bruising and inability to use the affected area.
A strain is a weakened, stretched or torn muscle or tendon. (Tendons connect
muscle to bone). This is often referred to as a pulled muscle and is often
a result of overusing or overstretching a muscle or tendon. Strains are
frequently seen in sports related accidents. Accident victims can strain
their ankle by missing a step or from the force of a motor vehicle accident.
Strains can be responsible for lower back pain that develops after lifting
heavy objects incorrectly. Strains can be described as a sudden, sharp
pain that later becomes stiff and sore. Areas that are strained may also
become swollen. Accident victims frequently report difficulty with using
or moving the affected area. Strains can also be classified as mild, moderate
or severe. With mild strains, a victim may complain of pain to the affected
area, with some muscle strains. Moderate strains develop symptoms similar
to mild strains, however, a person may often cite discoloration and difficulty
using the affected area. Accident victims who report hearing a "popping"
sound with the injury may have suffered from a severe sprain.
Treatment of sprains/strains may involve rest, ice, compression, elevation,
medications and physical therapy. Dependent upon the severity of the injury,
the involved area may require casting or surgery for severely torn ligaments,
tendons or muscles.
Accident victims who have repeated sprains and injuries of the same area
may develop permanent weakness and disability. It is also possible to
develop arthritis and other long term complications because of a severe sprain.
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