When we hear that someone is going to see an orthopedic surgeon, we often think that the person must have a broken bone that needs treatment. But orthopedic injuries go far beyond fractured bones. Orthopedic injuries can involve injury to any part of the musculoskeletal system, which is made up not only of the bones that make up the skeleton, but also the muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage that make it possible for us to walk, move our arms, hands, feet, neck, and other parts of our bodies.
An accident may result in a broken bone, whether it be an arm, leg, rib, clavicle, hip, or pelvis, among others. The fracture can range from a hairline break to a compound fracture in which the broken bone breaks through the skin. Compound fractures are especially dangerous because of the risk of infection from the open wound.
Some of the more common orthopedic injuries that result from the negligence of another person who is at fault for causing an automobile accident, a slip or trip and fall, or from a defective product include:
The extent of recovery from an orthopedic injury depends upon a number of factors, including the age and sex of the victim, severity of the injury, and how quickly medical treatment is obtained after an accident. An older woman with osteoporosis is more likely to break a hip or other bone in a fall than is a 25-year-old woman in good health. Also, if a 25-year-old victim and a 65-year-old victim suffer identical orthopedic injuries, the younger woman will generally heal more quickly with fewer permanent effects than the older woman.
When a person has sustained an orthopedic injury, in many cases the condition may become chronic or subject the person to complications further along in life. For instance, a victim who slips and falls on a dangerous supermarket floor and suffers a broken hip bone, has a greater risk of developing arthritis or other medical complications due to the injury later in life than if he or she had not been injured. Children who have suffered an orthopedic injury caused by a third person pose a special problem, because their musculoskeletal system is still developing and the full impact of their orthopedic injuries may not be known for years. When negotiating with the insurance company or trying your case in front of a jury, your lawyer must include such future problems and costs of treatment therefor as an element of damages to which the victim is entitled.
A broken bone may need to have a cast or brace to immobilize it, or a plate and screws may be necessary depending on the nature and location of the fracture. In some cases, the injured joint, such as a hip or shoulder, will need to be replaced with an artificial device. An orthopedic injury may require surgical repair, pain management, and lengthy and intensive physical therapy.
Orthopedic injuries are classified as acute or chronic. An acute injury is one that comes on suddenly—such as in an automobile accident or a slip/trip and fall—and is caused by high-intensity forces. Chronic injuries are of two types: chronic overuse injuries and chronic recurring conditions, which are acute injuries that occur multiple times, such as a sprained ankle.
The hip is one of the body’s largest weight-bearing joints. It consists of two parts: a ball at the top of the thighbone (femur) and the rounded socket in the pelvis. Ligaments hold the ball into the socket and provides stability to the joint. A hip fracture is usually a break near the top of the thighbone where it angles into the hip socket. Hip fractures are especially severe injuries to elderly patients with osteoporosis. Depending on the age and health of the victim, it can take months of bed rest and immobility for the hip to heal completely. In some cases, the hip is so severely damaged that it must be replaced with an artificial hip.
The knee is the largest joint in the body, made up of the lower end of the thighbone (femur), the upper end of the shinbone (tibia), and the knee cap (patella). The knee also includes four major ligaments that connect the bones, control motion, stabilize the joint, and restrict abnormal movement. The meniscus is the cartilage in the knee that serves as a shock absorber and stabilizer. The medial collateral ligament connects the thighbone to the shinbone and helps to stabilize the inner side of the need. A blow to the outside of the knee may cause injury to the MCL that may be accompanied by sharp pain on the inside of the knee. Other important ligaments in the knee are the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL).
The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body, capable of a nearly 360 degree range of motion. However, the complex mechanics of the shoulder make it vulnerable to injury. The shoulder joint is made up of the clavicle (collarbone), the scapula(shoulder blade), and the humerus (upper-arm bone). The shoulder joint is a ball-and-socket joint that helps the shoulder move forward and backward and makes it possible for the arm to movie in a circular motion and lift away from the body.
The elbow joint is where the upper-arm bone (humerus) meets the two bones of the lower arm (the ulna and radius). The elbow joint allows the arm to work like a door hinge as well as twist and rotate. The elbow is made up of several muscles, nerves, and tendons that connect the tissues between muscles and bones.
If you have suffered an orthopedic injury due to the fault of another person or a defective product, you should contact an experienced personal injury Law Firm as soon as possibe so an investigation into the accident can be started without delay, before evidence is lost or altered. The attorneys will also want to talk with witnesses to the incident as soon as possible, while the event is still fresh in their minds. An attorney may also be able to get you to health care professionals who specialize in orthopedic injuries.
You may not have health insurance and are unable to pay for expensive orthopedic visits and tests including MRI’s or x-rays. Call today and find out how we can help. Toll Free: (888) 845-9696.