Broken bones are more common than you might think. Young children are vulnerable to fractures because they put themselves in situations where they could fall. Seniors also suffer a high rate of fractures because bones lose their density as a person ages. Young and middle-aged adults can break their bones playing sports or in accidents.
As a result, up to half of all Americans will break a bone before they reach 65 years old. These bone fractures can range from a finger fracture that does not even require a cast to a skull fracture that endangers your life.
What Is the Structure of the Human Skeleton?
Your musculoskeletal system has two main parts: bones and soft tissue.
Made up of your bones, your skeleton provides the scaffold for your body. It gives your body the rigidity to hold up your weight and also protects your organs. Your ribs enclose your chest to protect your heart and lungs.
Soft tissue gives your body structure, strength, and motion. Ligaments hold bones together while muscles and tendons move them. Cartilage lines the joints so your bones can move smoothly.
The rigidity of your bones comes from minerals, like calcium and phosphorus, in the bone structure. These minerals form a sponge-like matrix inside bones. The matrix makes the bones strong, while the openings in the matrix make your bones light.
The openings also provide a passageway for blood vessels. Bone cells are alive, like all the cells in your body. They need oxygen and nutrients supplied by your blood to grow, multiply, and repair themselves.
Your bones also play a role in your circulatory system. The spleen removes old blood cells from your blood. The bone marrow at the center of your large bones produces new blood cells to replace them.
How Do Bones Break?
Bones break when the forces on them overcome their structural strength. Some ways these forces can get delivered to your bones include:
An impact from a heavy or fast-moving object can crack a bone. If a car hits your leg in a pedestrian accident, the impact force can fracture the longest and strongest bone in your body, the femur.
The skull can also fracture from an impact. A slip and fall accident could cause a fractured skull. In a slip and fall, your feet lose traction. Your head hits the ground since you cannot catch yourself as you fall backward.
Bending or Twisting
Most of your bones have a hollow void inside to hold the marrow. As a result, the bones are better at withstanding tension or compression forces than bending or twisting forces. When your bones bend or twist, they can snap.
These bending and twisting forces can come from many sources. Your arm could get caught in a factory machine in a workplace accident. As the machine continues to turn, it can break your arm bones.
Compression of your bones can cause them to buckle and break. In a car accident, your spine hyperextends as your head and body bend forward. The spine then compresses as you come to a stop, and you whip back into your seat. The compression of your spine can fracture a vertebra.
Classifying Broken Bones
Bone fractures get classified using three criteria:
Displaced or Non-Displaced
The displacement of a broken bone refers to how far the broken ends moved out of alignment. The bones in a non-displaced fracture remain substantially aligned. Non-displaced fractures usually do not require surgery. As a result, you will often heal faster from a non-displaced fracture.
Instead, doctors will simply stabilize the break with a cast. The cast will prevent the bone from moving until it heals in six to eight weeks.
In a displaced fracture, bones move out of alignment. The broken ends must contact each other for the bone to heal. Before putting a cast over the break, doctors need to manipulate the bones into alignment. They may even need to hold the ends together with screws and plates. After stabilizing the bone, your doctor can put on a cast.
Open or Closed
A closed fracture refers to the skin remaining closed. In other words, you have no exposed bone in a closed fracture. The bone may have displaced, but not far enough to break the skin.
An open fracture has an open wound. Often, the bone protrudes through the broken skin. When doctors treat an open fracture, they must stitch the wound closed.
A compound fracture is both open and displaced. A simple fracture is usually closed and non-displaced.
The shape of the fracture can tell a doctor how it happened and how long it will take to heal. Some examples of fracture shapes include:
Impacted fractures happen when compression forces cause the bone to buckle so that the broken ends push into each other. If you trip and fall forward, you may stick out your arms to catch yourself. When your hand hits the ground, your body weight can cause an impacted fracture in your wrist or arm.
An avulsion fracture is almost the opposite of an impacted fracture. An avulsion fracture happens when you hyperextend a tendon or ligament. The tension pulls a small piece of bone from the rest of the bone. As a result, you have a loose tendon or ligament with a bone fragment attached.
A comminuted fracture, also called a shattered bone, happens when a bone breaks into at least three pieces. To repair a comminuted fracture, doctors must reassemble the pieces and hold them together with screws and plates. Comminuted fractures can take up to a year to heal.
What Compensation Can You Receive for Broken Bones Caused By Another Party?
Most broken bones heal without any complications. When this happens, you will suffer from a temporary disability that lasts a few months, but you likely won’t have long-term consequences.
But occasionally, broken bones can develop complications that produce pain and other symptoms for the rest of your life. For example, when you fracture a bone near a joint, you might develop arthritis due to a misalignment of the bones that meet in the joint.
The compensation you pursue will depend on the severity and duration of your injuries. If you have more severe fractures, you will have greater financial losses. You will also suffer a greater impact on your quality of life.
Contact Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers for a free consultation to discuss the compensation you can seek for your broken bones.