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When could a broken bone become a catastrophic injury?

On Behalf of | Mar 27, 2024 | Catastrophic Injury

Certain types of injuries are generally classified as mild to moderate. They cause pain and other concerning symptoms, but people can fully recover with the right medical intervention. Other injuries are catastrophic. They cause permanent medical symptoms and may forever alter the course of someone’s life.

For those involved in car crashes, broken bones often fall into the first category. There is an expectation that proper medical care can lead to a full recovery. However, sometimes broken bones lead to catastrophic medical challenges and major financial consequences.

When can a broken bone go from being a simple, treatable issue to a far more pressing medical concern?

When the bone breaks in several places

A simple fracture requires straightforward treatment. Doctors set the bone and often apply a cast to immobilize the affected body part. With adequate rest, the body repairs the bone on its own. People may require physical therapy to improve their range of motion and strength after getting the cast taken off, but they can quickly improve to their pre-injury condition with the right medical care. When the bone breaks in multiple places, it may not heal as cleanly. In fact, the bone might break into many small pieces, as occurs in a comminuted fracture. It may not be possible for the body to repair the fracture without surgery. Even then, medical implants may be necessary. People may have a permanent reduction in their strength or lingering pain symptoms even after they heal.

When the injury results in improper healing

Broken bones are one of the types of trauma associated with potential nerve damage. Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) sometimes develops in locations where people have suffered trauma, like fractures. The healing process causes disruptions in communication between the affected body part and the nervous system. People may experience lingering or worsening pain, changes to the temperature of the affected body part or changes in the appearance of skin, nails and hair. CRPS often worsens over time and can leave someone unable to perform many manual tasks because of their functional limitations.

When a broken bone turns into a catastrophic injury, those injured in a car crash may need more than just insurance to compensate for their losses. Recognizing that a fracture can be an expensive, debilitating injury may help people better respond to both the medical and legal “sides” of a recent collision.