The human body has 206 bones. A break in any one bone can cause a worker to lose time from work. Employees can break a bone if they fall, are pinned by an object, are in a vehicle accident, or for many other reasons. Advanced age increases the risk of a broken bone. Broken bones can also occur due to repetitive stress/force on a bone.
Workers should seek immediate medical care so a doctor can diagnose the type of fracture they have and the severity of the fracture. Some broken bones require surgical repair. Other workplace accident victims may only need a splint, cast, sling, or brace so their bones can heal.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, bone fractures are the same thing as a broken bone. Generally, the word fracture is the more technical, medical term.
Bones are living tissue that are easily bruised if there is enough force on the bone. A bone bruise occurs when blood is trapped under the surface of your bone. A bone fracture occurs when the force on the bone is enough to break the bone in one or more places.
A sprain is different than a bruise or a break because you cannot sprain your bone. A sprain occurs when a ligament is torn or stretched. You can sprain a ligament and break a bone due to the same injury.
How are bone fractures categorized?
Fractures are categorized based on the following:
- The pattern or shape of the broken bone.
- The cause of the broken bone
- The part of your body that is broken
Pattern fractures. This category looks at the direction of the break and the shape of the break. Broken bones that have a single straight-line break include oblique fractures, transverse fractures, and longitudinal fractures (fractures along the length of your bone instead of the width).
Broken bones that don’t break in a single straight-line are classified as greenstick fractures, comminuted fractures, segmental fractures, and spiral fractures
Fractures categorized by cause. These types of broken bones include stress fractures (also called hairline fractures), buckle fractures (also called impacted or torus fractures), and avulsion fractures.
Fractures diagnosed by location. Fractures of the upper body and arms, include clavicle (collarbone) fractures, shoulder fractures, upper arm (humerus) fractures, rib fractures, facial fractures, elbow fractures, and compression fractures.
- Fractures of the hands or wrists include Smith fractures, Barton fractures, Chauffer fractures, and other types of fractures. A metacarpal fracture involves broken bones of “your hand that connect your wrist to your fingers.”
- Fractures of the lower body and legs include pelvic fractures, hip fractures, acetabular fractures, femur fractures, patella fractures, tibia (shin) fractures, fibula (calf) fractures, and growth plate fractures. A common fracture that can occur from a fall from heights occurs where the tibia and ankle connect and is called a pylon fracture. These case sometimes be quite severe, with the tibia bone shattering into many pieces.
- Fractures of the feet and ankles are often complicated. These fractures include fifth metatarsal fractures, Jones fractures, calcian stress fractures, and other types of fractures.
What different classifications of fractures are there?
Open fractures involve a break through the skin. These fractures are also known as compound fractures. These fractures have an increased risk of infection and other complications. They also take longer to heal. Closed fractures don’t push through the skin – though they can still be severe.
A displaced fracture means “the pieces of your bone moved so much that a gap formed around the fracture when your bone broke.” In a non-displaced fracture, “the pieces weren’t moved far enough during the break to be out of alignment.” Generally, displaced fractures are more likely to necessitate surgery than non-displaced fractures.
What are the symptoms of a broken bone?
Common fracture symptoms include pain, tenderness, swelling, bruising, loss of some movement, and other symptoms.
How are broken bones diagnosed in North Carolina and Virginia ?
Doctors usually take an oral history, conduct a physical exam, and order diagnostic tests to diagnose your bone injuries. Most times, your ER doctor will conduct these tests after they’ve stabilized your condition. Common diagnostic tests for fractures include:
- X-rays. This test will confirm if you have a broken bone and the damage to the bone.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). This test helps to show the damage to the bone and the area around the bone. An MRI also examines whether you have any cartilage or ligament damage, or in the case of the spine, whether you may have herniated a disc.
- CT scan. This test gives a “more detailed picture of your bones and the surrounding tissue than an X-ray.”
- Bone scan. This test helps to find fractures that don’t appear on X-rays. This imaging test often requires two visits four hours apart.
How are broken bones treated in North Carolina and Virginia?
The treatments for fractures vary depending on the type of fracture, the severity of the fracture, and other factors. Common treatments include:
- Immobilization. Less severe fractures where the bone didn’t move far out of place often require a splint or a cast. A splint is used for three to five weeks. A cast is used for about six to eight weeks. Your doctor will likely order a follow-up X-ray to examine how the bones are healing.
- A closed reduction. This non-surgical procedure is used to realign the bones by “physically push[ing] and pull[ing] your body on the outside to line up your broken bones inside you.” The procedure likely will use a local anesthetic, sedatives, and/or general anesthesia. The broken bone will then be placed in a splint or a cast.
- Bone fracture surgery. There are different techniques your orthopedist will use depending on the type of fracture. These methods include internal fixation (with rods, plates and screws, or pins and wires), external fixation (which uses screws and a brace or bracket to stabilize the fracture) followed by an internal fixation, arthroplasty (joint replacement), or bone grafting.
Possible complications, according to the Cleveland Clinic include:
- “Acute compartment syndrome (ACS). A build-up of pressure in your muscles may stop blood from getting to tissue, which can cause permanent muscle and nerve damage.
- Malunion. This happens when your broken bones don’t line up correctly while they heal.
- Nonunion. Your bones may not grow back together fully or at all.
- Bone infection (osteomyelitis): If you have an open fracture (the bone breaks through your skin) you have an increased risk of bacterial infection.”
- Damage to your muscles, nerves, blood vessels, tendons and ligaments.
Some fractures take weeks to heal. Severe fractures may need more than a year to heal.
Many doctors will advise patients very strongly to stop smoking prior to any surgery which requires bone healing or union. This is because research shows that smoking has been shown to increase the risk of non-union in patients with various kinds of bone fractures.
We have unfortunately been involved in many, many cases of injured workers who have suffered complex fractures and surgeries, some with good recoveries, some who develop infections due to the severe nature of the fracture, and some with poor recoveries due to non-union. Insofar as the workers compensation case is concerned, we’ve had many, many positive outcomes that allow the injured worker to begin life anew after such a catastrophic injury.
At Joe Miller Law Ltd., our North Carolina and Virginia workers’ compensation lawyer works with your orthopedist to verify your injury, the treatments you need, and whether and when you’ll be able to return to work. He’ll seek compensation for all your medical bills, temporary disability benefits, and, if necessary, permanent disability benefits. Call attorney Joe Miller, Esq., at 888-667-8295 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.
Our law firm does have a way for you to provide your details of your accident and injuries if you simply want to do that electronically from the comfort and safety of your home at any time of day or night. To utilize this service, simply click here: New Electronic Case Review.
We’ll get back to you, typically within 24 hours to provide our response as to whether your situation is one where we can provide you with legal representation. If we require more information, we’ll contact you and ask for that information in order to make that determination as to whether we are the best folks to assist you. If we ultimately determine that we cannot represent or assist you, we will not leave you high and dry. We’ll do our best to provide you with other resources to assist you.