Fractures and Arthritis Following an Injury

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A fracture is a break in the bone, which can be anything from a small crack (a hairline, or stress, fracture) to the shattering of the bone into multiple pieces (a comminuted fracture). Fractures are caused when an external force is exerted on the bone that it cannot withstand, such as in a car crash.

Fractures are one of the most common injuries sustained in road accidents. Depending on where in the car the victim is seated and how the collision takes place, the severity and location of fractures can differ greatly.

Because of the immediate proximity to the steering wheel and pedals, drivers are particularly at risk of suffering broken bones, particularly in the legs. Finger, hand, and arm injuries are commonly caused by colliding with the steering wheel during a crash, as are fractured ribs. But the position of the steering wheel column and driving pedals also means that fractures to ankles and feet, as well as knees are a likely outcome.

Treatment of bone fractures

Unfortunately, recovering from a broken bone is often a slow and, sometimes, painful process, particularly in the case of complex and multiple fractures. Broken bones may possibly prevent you from being able to work and carry out your everyday tasks and you may need extensive rehabilitation.

Bone fractures may also cause lasting effects that can be very difficult to live with. A common long-term side effect of a fracture is osteoarthritis or, more specifically, post-traumatic arthritis.

Post-traumatic arthritis or osteoarthritis?

While osteoarthritis is a chronic disease affecting the joints, attacking cartilage, and causing pain and stiffness, post-traumatic arthritis (PTA) refers to cases where joint pain has been triggered by injury.

Although the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, there is a distinction. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, an estimated 10% - 15% of those diagnosed with osteoarthritis can actually be classed as having PTA instead.

The most frustrating thing about the condition is that as it may not be apparent immediately after the injury (it can take many years after the initial damage for symptoms to develop), it is possible to think you are fully recovered from a fracture only to discover, years down the line, that post-traumatic arthritis has set in. This can lead to you experiencing considerable pain for the rest of your life and may mean that you are severely restricted in your mobility, causing you to require extra care and support. You are also likely to need medication to reduce the pain or, if that proves ineffective, surgery to attempt to repair the joint.

Different fractures are more likely to cause post-traumatic arthritis than others. It is therefore essential that if you have suffered a fracture in a car accident, you should discuss the issue in detail with your doctor or consultant to find out whether you are at risk of suffering complications in the future. If there is reasonable risk and you decide to make a claim for compensation, it is vital that your lawyer takes full account of the possibility of long-term suffering.

Start your claim with Thompsons

If either you or a loved one have suffered broken bones in a road accident that was caused at least in part by someone else's negligence, you may be able to claim compensation, especially if the fracture is likely to lead to a long-term condition such as osteoarthritis.

You can learn more about the claims process for road accidents here. If you would like to get in touch with our experienced team of solicitors and see if you are able to make a claim, call 0800 0891331 for no win no fee help and advice.

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