Fractures and Orthopedic Injuries
Orthopedic injuries are injuries to the skeletal system which consists of bones, joints and supporting structures like muscles, cartilage, ligaments and tendons. The term "orthopedic injury" includes fractures (broken bones), dislocated joints (dislocation) and torn or ruptured tendons, muscles or ligaments. Any of these injuries can result from trauma such as that encountered in automobile accidents, falls or contact sports. The experienced Miami, Florida fracture lawyers at Hannon Legal Group have represented victims of car accidents, slip and falls and other personal injury accidents who have suffered serious orthopedic injuries in state and federal courts throughout Florida. Our Miami, Fl orthopedic injury attorneys are familiar with the medical issues as well as the varied legal issues involved in all types of personal injury cases involving serious orthopedic injury cases.
With 206 bones and over 230 joints in the human body not including the supporting soft tissue structures, there are many possible orthopedic injuries. Some of the more common orthopedic injuries include:
- Acetabular Fracture / Fractured Acetabulum
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tears / Torn ACL
- Ankle Fractures /Broken Ankle
- Bimalleolar Ankle Fracture
- Comminuted Fractures
- Compound Fracture
- Elbow Fractures
- Facial Fractures
- Femoral Head Fractures
- Femur Fractures
- Hip Fractures
- Humerus Fractures /Humeral Fractures
- Infraspinatus Tear
- Intertrochanteric Fracture
- Intra–articular Fractures
- Knee Fractures / Patella Fractures
- Labral Tear / Torn Labrum
- Lateral Collateral Ligament Tears / Torn LCL
- Medial Collateral Ligament Tears / Torn MCL
- Meniscal Tear / Torn Meniscus
- Necrosis / Necrotic Bone
- Post-Traumatic Osteoarthritis/ Post Traumatic Arthritis
- Posterior Cruciate Ligament Tears / Torn PCL
- Rotator Cuff Tears
- Skull Fractures
- Spiral Fractures
- Subscapularis Tear
- Supraspinatus Tear
- Teres Minor Tear
- Tib / Fib Fractures
- Tibia / Tibial Fractures
- Tibial Plateau Fractures
- Trimalleolar Ankle Fractures
- Wrist Fractures
A "fracture" is defined as the disruption in the integrity of a bone often called a break or crack. This may involve injury to the bone marrow, periosteum, and adjacent soft tissues. Fractures are categorized into various types. Descriptions of fractures are generally based on 1) which bone is involved and where in the bone the break has occurred, 2) how the bone fragments are aligned, and; 3) the existence of any complications.
When describing a broken bone, it is initially referred to as either an open fracture or a closed fracture. If the skin over the break is cut, torn or otherwise disrupted, it is classified as an open fracture. This is significant because with an open fracture, there is an increased risk of an infection developing in the bone. An infection in the bone is known as "osteomyelitis".
The second step in describing a fracture involves a description of the fracture line. A transverse fracture is one where the fracture line goes across the bone. An oblique fracture is one where the fracture line crosses the bone at an angle. A spiral fracture, also called a torsion fracture, is one where the bone has been twisted apart.
Third, a description of the fragments is undertaken. If the bone is broken into more than two pieces it is called a comminuted fracture.
Finally, the alignment of the fracture fragments is characterized as either displaced or non–displaced meaning that they are in their normal anatomic position.
Some of the more common fracture types include greenstick fractures (where the bone is partially broken), comminuted fractures, compression fractures, spiral fractures, compound fractures, avulsion fractures and transverse fractures.
The proper diagnosis of a bone fracture involves a physical examination of the injury site and usually requires an X–Ray to better depict the area of injury. In children, there are numerous growth plates which can make reading the X–Ray more challenging.
Growth plates are areas of increased cellular activity where the bone grows and a fracture in the growth plate is often difficult to see on an X–Ray. Growth plate fractures are potentially problematic as they can alter normal skeletal development.Other Orthopedic Injuries
Tendon Injuries: A "Tendon" is a very strong, fibrous tissue that attaches muscle to bone. Trauma can result in torn or ruptured tendons. A tendon rupture or tear can be a serious and very painful injury. If left untreated, a ruptured tendon can result in a significant permanent impairment or disability. Sometimes, when a tendon is stressed it can pull away from the bone and rip a piece or fragment off of the bone. This is referred to as an avulsion fracture. X–rays may be taken at the hospital or doctor's office, however, an MRI is usually more helpful in diagnosing a tendon injury.
Ligamentous Injuries: "Ligaments" are tough, fibrous cords that surround joints and hold them together. They also connect bones to each other. Trauma can cause ligaments to be torn. When ligaments are stretched too far or torn, the injury is typically called a sprain. Joints, such as the knee joint, are held together by ligaments. Two of the knee ligaments, the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) and the Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) are particularly susceptible to injury when the knee is subjected to trauma or severe twisting forces. A torn ACL or MCL can be extremely painful and is almost always treated surgically. In some cases, a total knee replacement becomes necessary. Like tendon injuries, ligament damage is better visualized on an MRI (magnetic Resonance Imaging) than on an x–ray.
Cartilage Damage: "Cartilage" is a somewhat elastic form of connective tissue. There are three types of cartilage found throughout the body; 1) articular or hyaline cartilage which covers joint surfaces, 2) fibrocartilage – the type that makes up the meniscus in the knee joint and vertebral discs and, 3) elastic cartilage – the type of which the outer ear is composed. They vary in strength and elasticity.
Some common injuries to fibrocartilage include a herniated disc also referred to as a herniated nucleus pulposus (HNP) and a torn meniscus in the knee, sometimes referred to as torn cartilage. These injuries can be treated either non–surgically or surgically depending on their severity.
Knee surgery is often performed using an arthroscopically. An arthroscopic repair is less invasive than a traditional, open repair and the recovery time is considerably shorter. More serious tears may require an open repair.
A severely torn meniscus may lead to osteoarthritis and ultimately a total joint replacement or total arthroplasty. Similarly, a damaged triangular fibrocartilage complex in the wrist can lead to debilitating arthritis and the need for a wrist fusion.
A severely herniated disk can "impinge" on the nerve root where it leaves the spinal cord. This can cause pain and neurological symptoms including numbness and weakness in the extremity or muscle served by the impinged nerve. In some cases, depending on the location and severity, an HNP can put pressure on the spinal cord itself and result in paralysis.
Articular cartilage lines the bony surface of joints helping to reduce the friction caused by movement. Damage or injury can be the result of trauma or degenerative processes also called wear and tear. Damage caused by either mechanism can lead to osteoarthritis (or post–traumatic osteoarthritis when caused by trauma) or degenerative joint disease which can ultimately require joint fusion or total joint replacement surgery to relieve symptoms. Cartilage damage is usually diagnosed either with the help of an MRI or an arthroscopic examination.
If you or someone you know has suffered a serious orthopedic injury as the result of someone else's negligence, you may be entitled to substantial compensation. Contact a Florida personal injury lawyer at Hannon Legal Group today for a free consultation about your potential case.
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