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The Law Offices of Frank J. Dito, Jr.

Important Information you Should Know when Diagnosed With a Fracture after an Accident

Frank J. Dito, Jr.
Car accident, personal injury and workers’ compensation attorney serving Staten Island and Brooklyn New York.

Individuals involved in accidents frequently suffer from fractures as a result of trauma.  Chances are that if you have been in an motorcycle accident and diagnosed with a fractured leg or if you are involved in a slip and fall accident and diagnosed with a fractured hip, spine, pelvis, wrist forearm, ankle or hand you may have questions about your injury and your legal rights.  In addition to healing, getting information about your health is key and protecting your case is critical.  If you have suffered from an accident that caused you to have a fractured bone some of the questions you may be seeking to have answered are "What is a fracture", "How will the x-ray results affect my case" "can I sue the person whose negligence caused my fracture"?  As a Staten Island fracture lawyer I am here to answer all of you questions concerning your case.  Here are answers to some of the questions you may be having about your fracture:

What is a fracture?

Fractures are cracks in bones. Symptoms include pain, swelling, deformity, and abnormal motion. Diagnosis is usually done by plain x-rays. Treatment involves pain medicine, immobilization by a cast, brace or sling, and sometimes surgery. Most fractures result from a single application of significant force to otherwise normal bone. Stress fractures result from repetitive application of force.

To understand why bones break, it helps to know what bones do and what they are made of. The bones of the body form the human skeleton, which supports and protects the softer parts of the body. Bones are living tissue. They grow rapidly during one's early years, and renew themselves when they are broken. 

Bones have a center called the marrow, which is softer than the outer part of the bone. Bone marrow has cells that develop into red blood cells that carry oxygen to all parts of the body and into white blood cells that help fight disease. Bones also contain the minerals calcium and phosphorus. These minerals are combined in a crystal-like or latticework structure. Because of their unique structure, bones can bear large amounts of weight. 

 

How Fractures occur

Bones are rigid, but they do bend, or "give" somewhat when an outside force is applied to them. When this force stops, bone normally returns to its original shape. For example, if you fall forward and land on your outstretched hand, there's an impact, or force, on the bones of your wrist as you hit the ground. Your bones can usually absorb this shock by bending or giving slightly and then returning to their original shape and position. If the force is too great, however, bones will break, just as a plastic ruler breaks after being bent too far.

Symptoms, Signs, and Diagnosis

After a fracture, pain is usually immediate. Swelling around the fracture site increases for several hours. Children may not exhibit significant soft-tissue swelling in the presence of a greenstick fracture. The pain and swelling usually begin to resolve after 12 to 24 hours. With some fractures, like rib fractures, the fracture can be sensed and is described as a popping or cracking sensation.

If a wound is close to a fracture, an open fracture is assumed. Fractures are usually diagnosed by plain x-rays. If no fracture line is visible on plain x-rays but is strongly suspected or if more detail is needed to guide treatment, MRI or CT scan is done.

 

A fracture's appearance on x-rays can be described using 5 terms:

  • Type of fracture line
  • Location of fracture line
  • Angulation
  • Displacement 
  • Open or closed

The location of the fracture may be the bone's head, neck, or shaft (proximal, middle, or distal third). 

The chart below shows the common types of fractures and how they appear on x-rays.

Transverse fractures are perpendicular to the long axis of bone.
Oblique fractures occur at an angle.
Spiral fractures result from a rotatory mechanism; on x-rays, they are differentiated from oblique fractures by a component parallel to the long axis of bone.
Comminuted fractures have more than 2 bone fragments.
Comminuted fractures include segmental fractures (2 separate breaks in a bone).
Avulsion fractures are caused by a tendon pulling off a bone fragment.
In impacted fractures, bone fragments are driven into each other, shortening the bone.
Childhood fractures include torus fractures (buckling of the bone) and greenstick fractures (cracks in only 1 side of the bone).

Treatment
Immediate treatment includes analgesics and, for suspected unstable fractures or fractures of long bones, such as the legs or arms, splinting. Suspected open fractures require sterile wound dressings and broad-spectrum antibiotics to prevent infection.

Rotational misalignment or significant angulation or displacement is corrected with reduction.  Reduction is a realignment of the bone fragments by physical manipulation – usually by pulling on the arm or leg until the bones realign.
Closed reduction, without cutting into the ski, is preferred and done when possible; if closed reduction is not possible, open reduction, which involves cutting into the skin to gain access to the bones, is done.
Sometimes, the fractures require open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF). In ORIF, fracture fragments are realigned and held in place using hardware, such as screws, plates and pins.
Fractures, whether they require reduction, surgery, or neither, are typically immobilized. Usually, a cast is applied for weeks or months, but a splint may be used instead, particularly for fractures that heal faster when mobilized early.

Golden Rules to Follow Regarding Your Fracture Injury
- Seek treatment with an orthopedist
- Wear your cast/brace/sling
- Follow up with physical therapy, if advised
- Follow their doctors instructions
- Maintain copies of your x-rays and insure that your lawyer possesses a copy
- Keep a daily log of your medications and doctor visits

If you have any additional questions about your fracture or would like to discuss your case with a Staten Island New York fracture attorney contact Frank J. Dito, Jr. at 718.701.2776.