There are 4,800,000 injuries in the US annually that require medical attention. Of course, not every collision results in injury, but many do. Car accidents can cause various injuries, but orthopedic injuries are the most common ones.
A car accident can change the lives of all parties involved. If you’ve suffered car accident injuries, you probably know how devastating it can be to deal with medical bills, insurance companies, and missed work while you recover. However, many victims are unaware they can recover compensation for injuries after an accident.
Read on to learn about common car accident-related orthopedic injuries for which you may be able to seek recovery.
What Are Orthopedic Injuries?
Any injury to the musculoskeletal system is known as an orthopedic injury. Orthopedic injuries usually involve joints and bones.
Some injuries can develop gradually over time, while others can happen suddenly from trauma. For example, a person could develop an orthopedic injury from the repetitive motion of a contact sport or a persistent sports injury. This is because the damage to the tendons, nerves, ligaments, and bones compromises the musculoskeletal system over time. On the other hand, sudden blunt-force trauma from a car accident Can also result in orthopedic injury.
Examples of Orthopedic injuries include:
- Bone Fractures
- Dislocations (shoulder, collarbone, etc.)
- Foot or ankle sprains
- Shoulder impingements
- Torn rotator cuff
- Herniated or slipped discs
- Torn meniscus (Knee injury caused by forceful twisting or rotating)
- Plantar fasciitis (foot pain around the heel and arch)
- Tennis elbow (pain around the outside of the elbow)
- Carpal tunnel syndrome (pressure on the nerves in the wrist)
- Stress fractures, hairline fractures, transverse fractures
- Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear (knee injury that makes the person feel pain or a pop)
Sports injuries, like a torn ACL, are generally distinguishable from car accident injuries. That’s because sports injuries usually happen from overuse or repetitive wear and tear. On the other hand, car accident injuries are more painful and disruptive. The injured person will often experience severe pain, swelling, lost range of motion or bruising. That said, a person can still sustain orthopedic injuries without obvious or disturbing symptoms. Therefore, seeking medical attention after any car accident is advisable to be on the safe side.
What Are Some Common Orthopedic Injuries After an Accident?
Orthopedic injuries can result from trauma that car accidents cause to the body. Below are some of the most common orthopedic injuries that may require medical treatment after a car accident. You may also need to get a Denver car accident lawyer if you want to seek compensation for your injuries.
Whiplash is one of the most common injuries associated with a car accident. You can get whiplash from a fast jerking motion that pulls the neck back and forth. Sometimes medical professionals refer to whiplash as a neck strain or sprain. A large majority of whiplash injured are from rear-end car collisions. But whiplash can result in other types of car crashes.
The severity of a whiplash injury ranges from mild to severe. The severity will depend on the crash’s impact and how significantly it affected the neck muscles, ligaments, and nerves. People suffering from whiplash injuries experience symptoms like:
- Neck pain
- Shoulder pain
- Back pain
- Muscle spasms
- Changes in mood and memory
A physical exam or patient assessment diagnoses whiplash. Sometimes, a doctor may order an MRI or a CT scan for more precise imaging of the head, back, and shoulders.
The treatment course for whiplash usually depends on the injury’s severity. Some treatment options include:
- Ice or heat on the injury
- Over-the-counter or prescription pain relief medication
- Neck brace or other assistive medical devices
- Physical rehabilitation and therapy
- Chiropractic treatments
Mild cases of whiplash usually last for a few days to a few weeks. However, you might experience symptoms for months or years if you have severe whiplash.
A fracture is a partial or entire break in a bone. There are several categories of fractures, including open, closed, stress, and complete fractures.
A deep wound that exposes broken bone or pierces through the skin is called an open fracture. A broken bone under the skin is called a closed fracture. An injury that causes a group of small cracks in the bone is a stress fracture.
Fractures are generally caused by trauma (such as a car crash). Bones can only absorb a limited amount of force. When a bone endures excessive force from direct pressure, that can cause a fracture. Furthermore, twisting a bone will significantly weaken or fracture it as well. When a bone breaks from a twisting motion, it’s known as a spiral fracture—a spiral fracture results from a twisting line around the bone that resembles a corkscrew. Spiral fractures are often referred to as “complete” fractures.
A car accident victim suffering from a bone fracture may experience symptoms like:
- Pain at the injury site
- Visible deformities (e.g., a dislocated shoulder that popped out of place)
- Redness and warmth around the fracture
- Difficulty moving the injured limb
It’s best to seek professional medical care to diagnose your injury correctly. A doctor can perform physical exams or order other tests for an accurate diagnosis.
Treatment for bone fractures will vary depending on the severity and location of the injury. In most severe cases, the injured person may require surgery. Surgery for broken bones may require rods, pins, or screws in the bone. Or, your doctor may put a splint or a cast. A split or cast would immobilize the injury site to help heal the bone fuse back together. Another type of treatment is traction to pull muscles and tendons in place. Muscle traction helps prevent excessive movement of the injured area and align the fractured bone.
The average recovery time for a bone fracture is six to eight weeks. However, timeframes will vary depending on your unique injury circumstances. For example, a wrist fracture could heal in four weeks. On the other hand, a leg fracture might take months to recover fully.
Dislocations can happen from a force pulling a bone out of its location. The most commonly occurring dislocation injuries are in larger joints like the hip and shoulder but can also happen in smaller areas like the thumb or finger. Such injuries are usually excruciating.
A person experiencing a dislocation injury may have symptoms like:
- Visual deformity
- Limited range of motion in the injured joint
- Instability of a joint
A doctor can diagnose a dislocated joint by examining the area and patient assessment. Additionally, X-rays can help a doctor see the degree of injury severity. Practitioners often use joint manipulation techniques to push bones back into place. One may require pain medication and rest to recover following relocation procedures. Finally, physical therapy can help restore joint strength after a car accident dislocation injury.
Torn ligaments, bones, and tendons might require a car accident victim to get surgery. However, most people can fully recover from a dislocation. Recovery time for a dislocation injury can take weeks to months.
Should impingements can result from repeated stress on a joining or blunt force trauma from a car collision. The collision force can cause the tendons and muscles in the shoulder to rub against the bone. If you experience any of the following symptoms, you may have a shoulder impingement:
- Pain that radiates from the arm to the shoulder
- Consistent pain in the shoulder
- Weakness in the arm and shoulder
Your doctor may ask you to perform a series of motions to check your shoulder movement. In addition, they may order an X-ray to exclude other possible shoulder injuries. If it turns out you have a shoulder impingement, you will need to rest it to avoid further injury or strain while it heals. Ice is also a standard treatment to help relieve swelling and stiffness. The most severe form of shoulder impingement is a torn rotator cuff, which would require surgery. Shoulder impingements take three to six months to heal.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are common in car accidents and can cause discomfort and inconvenience for the patient. Spinal cord injuries happen when the crash fore causes spinal cushions to tear, weakening the buffer between vertebrae.
Herniated discs are one of the most common car accident-related spinal cord injuries. They are also known as slipped, bulging, or ruptured discs. They most commonly happen in the lower back but can occur in the neck too.
A lower back injury may present as:
- Tingling or numbness in the legs and feet
- Lower back pain
Herniated disc symptoms include:
- Pain between the shoulders
- Pain while turning or bending the neck
- Pain that extends from the neck to the arms and hands
- Neck pain
- Numbness or tingling in the arms
A doctor may use X-Rays, MRI, CT scan, or EMG to diagnose a herniated disc. They may also perform tests to assess pain levels, muscle reflexes, strength, and sensations of the injury site. Treatment for a herniated disc can include pain relievers and physical therapy.
Healing time for herniated discs is usually around four weeks, but it can take longer. In addition, the patient might require surgery if the car accident caused a severely herniated disc.
A Meniscus, or knee tear, is an injury from twisting or trauma to the meniscus. This is a C-shaped part of the cartilage in the knee that absorbs shock between the upper and lower leg bones. Meniscus tears can become severe if gone undetected, which is typical because meniscus tears can present no symptoms at all. However, if you do have symptoms, they might include the following:
- Stiffness and swelling in the knee area
- Collapsing of the knee
- The knee giving out
- Popping sounds or sensations in the knee
- Difficulty bearing weight on the knee
A doctor may recommend that you rest your knee or use crutches or a knee brace after the car accident. They may also advise you to prop the leg. Pain medication and physical therapy are also commonly used to treat a torn meniscus. A drastic tear might require arthroscopic surgery to repair the meniscus. A torn meniscus usually takes a few weeks to a few months to heal.
When Should you Seek Medical Car for Car Accident Injuries?
You should seek medical care as soon as possible after the accident. Your well-being and safety after a car accident should be the top priority. If you are injured at the scene, ask someone nearby to call 911. Even if you don’t have obvious signs of injury after an accident, it’s still a good idea to see a doctor. Sometimes the adrenaline from the crash trauma can mask the actual pain. That’s because adrenaline initiates your body’s fight or flight response, so you get a sudden burst of energy that will mute your pain. However, you will feel the pain once the adrenaline wears off. After seeking medically necessary medical care, contact an experienced Denver Personal Injury Lawyer.
Contact a Denver Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you were injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you should not have to bear the consequences alone. Additionally, you can seek compensation for your injuries.
Our Denver Personal Injury Lawyers and legal team have the skill, experience, and resources to fight for you. In addition, we have medical professionals in our network who can testify on your behalf if your case goes to court. Finally, we will happily discuss your case details during your free, no-risk initial consultation.
Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation, or call 720-500-HURT.