Broken Bones

Broken bones are some of the most common traumatic injuries in Colorado. About 6.8 million Americans fracture a bone annually. This means the average American can expect to break about two bones during their lifetime.

Even when they heal correctly, broken bones can cause pain and skeletal instability and require expensive medical treatment. Here is what you need to know about broken bones and what you can do if you suffer one in an accident in Colorado.

Causes of Broken Bones

Causes of Broken Bones

Bones provide structure to your body by holding and supporting the soft tissues. Bone cells use minerals like calcium to form a matrix of thin, rigid strands. 

Your bones can fracture when forces overcome the strength of the mineral materials forming them. The following types of trauma can break bones:

Impact Trauma

While your bones can absorb some energy, an impact can overwhelm them and cause a bone to crack. For example, if you hit your head on the pavement during a pedestrian accident, your skull could fracture.

Bending Trauma

Most bone fractures result from bending trauma. When a bone bends, one side of the bone experiences compression while the other side experiences tension. The difference in these forces can form cracks on both sides.

An example of bending trauma happens during a car accident. As your head whips back and forth, you can fracture a vertebra in your neck even though nothing hits it simply due to the bending it experiences.

Twisting Trauma

Twisting trauma can also fracture your bones. Suppose that you suffer a motorcycle accident and collide with a car. Your leg can get trapped under the motorcycle when it falls over. If your body twists as your leg is trapped, you can fracture your leg.

Compression Trauma

Compression trauma happens when forces applied to the ends of the bone cause it to buckle. Imagine stepping on a soda can; it can withstand your weight as long as the force is centered above it. But if the weight is off slightly or the side of the can bends, it can compress.

A compression fracture happens similarly. Thus, if you fall from scaffolding in a construction accident, you can break your leg bone when you land on your feet due to compression trauma caused by your body weight pressing down on it.

Crushing Trauma

When crushing forces are applied over a certain area, they can shatter bones into multiple pieces. A common cause of crushing trauma happens when something heavy falls on you during a workplace accident. Other causes include vehicle collisions and accidents where you get caught in machinery.

Classifying Broken Bones

Doctors use three factors to classify bone fractures. The following factors will determine the treatment required and your prognosis:

Did The Bone Move Out Of Place?

You may hear your doctor use the terms “displaced” or “non-displaced.” A non-displaced fracture happens when the bone breaks, but the broken ends remain aligned. Non-displaced fractures are more easily treated and less prone to complications.

Displaced fractures occur when the broken ends of the bone move out of alignment. These types of fractures require more involved treatment and may be prone to complications, particularly if doctors do not realign the bone precisely.

Did the Bone Break The Skin?

An open fracture, also called a compound fracture, happens when the bone displaces so far that it pierces the skin. A closed fracture occurs when the skin remains unbroken after the fracture. Closed fractures might involve non-displacement or minor displacement of the fragments. 

This means that open fractures are always displaced, while closed fractures might be displaced or non-displaced.

What Is the Nature of the Fracture?

The doctor will look at several characteristics of a fracture to determine its nature. The shape of the break will tell the doctor how it happened and how to treat it. For instance, a simple fracture caused by bending trauma usually looks like a straight line across the narrow dimension of the bone. A fracture caused by twisting trauma looks like a spiral around the bone.

Another characteristic is whether the fracture goes through the full thickness of the bone. A non-displaced fracture, such as a stress fracture, might only affect part of the bone. More serious fractures will separate the bone into independent fragments.

Yet another characteristic used to identify fractures is the number of fragments. A comminuted fracture, also called a shattered bone, produces three or more fragments. This number is significant because it means at least one fragment floats freely. Comminuted fractures often require reconstructive surgery and a long rehabilitation.

Bone Fracture Treatments

The treatment of a minor fracture in a bone that does not bear any loads might simply involve immobilization until the bone heals. For example, a fractured finger might only require a splint and time for the bone to heal.

More severe fractures, including fractures in load-bearing bones, may call for more involved treatments. Non-displaced fractures are typically the easiest to treat. A doctor will X-ray the injury to ensure the bone is aligned and immobilize the bone using a cast or brace.

Displaced fractures often require realignment and stabilization before immobilization. Sometimes, the doctor can manipulate misaligned bones without surgery. They will simply pull and twist the broken body part until the fragments match. 

In other cases, they may need to operate. During the operation, the doctor will realign the bones and secure them with plates, rods, and screws.

Once the bone is realigned, a clot can form over the fracture. The body will usually heal the bone in six to eight weeks. Some fractures that require reconstructive surgery may take longer. Comminuted fractures, for instance, can take up to a year to heal.

Complications from Broken Bones

Broken bones can involve serious and even life-threatening complications. Open fractures can develop infections when microorganisms enter through the open wound. They can also bleed severely. A fracture can cause additional stress on nearby joints, increasing the risk of osteoarthritis.

Displaced fractures can damage nerves by tearing through them. Symptoms of nerve damage include pain, numbness, and loss of dexterity in the body part with the broken bone. This type of nerve damage is often permanent.

A deadly complication can develop during the healing process as well. Part of the blood clot can break off and travel through the veins to your lungs. A pulmonary embolism occurs when it lodges in a blood vessel there. You might experience shortness of breath and chest pain. Emergency treatment is vital for this complication.

Can I Get Compensated for Broken Bones In Colorado?

Broken bones are serious injuries. You can incur significant losses after a broken bone due to expensive treatments and lost paychecks. Fortunately, Colorado law gives you the right to pursue injury compensation for bone fractures caused by someone else’s negligent or wrongful acts. 

The experienced team at Matos Personal Injury Lawyers has recovered millions in compensation for injured clients just like you in Lakewood and the surrounding communities. Schedule your consultation with us today at (720) 912 7274.