Unfortunately, when the musculoskeletal system suffers serious orthopaedic injuries, they may suffer severe pain and have to undergo extensive rehabilitation after treatment in order to make a recovery.
If a person sustains serious orthopaedic injuries, the effects can have a devastating impact on their life.
They may lose the ability to complete simple tasks around the home, continue employment or, in many circumstances, lead an independent life.
These potentially extreme changes in an injured person’s capability mean it can be a challenging time for them and their loved ones, both financially and emotionally.
This type of injury can be sub-categorised into:
Serious orthopaedic injuries are usually caused by:
There is no medical difference between ‘broken’ and ‘fractured’ when referring to damaged bones. Medical professionals refer to all cracked, crushed and broken bones as fractures, whether minor or severe.
There are many types of serious fractures, several of which are listed below:
This type of fracture causes the bone to break into two pieces.
Here, the affected bone is crushed or shatters into more than three pieces.
This refers to the dislocation of a joint that causes a fracture to a bone in that area.
Here, either a wound causes the fracture to the bone or the fractured bone pierces the skin causing a wound.
This type of fracture causes injury to other parts of the body that are located near the fracture, such as blood vessels or nerves.
The cause of fractures most common is severe trauma to a bone, which may be sustained during a motor, pedestrian or motorbike accident, as well as at work if a person suffers a fall or if they are hurt by a heavy object or defective machinery.
Certain bone conditions can cause serious fractures, such as osteoporosis.
Although osteoporosis usually occurs naturally, medical negligence can be the main cause for a person suffering from osteoporosis.
Medical negligence generally consists of either a negligent diagnosis or negligent treatment.
For example, if a medical professional fails to diagnose a person with a disorder that subsequently causes osteoporosis, such as Hyperthyroidism or Cushing’s Syndrome, they may be liable to a claim for medical negligence if they could have been reasonably been expected to discover the correct diagnosis that would have prevented the osteoporosis.
By way of another example, if a doctor prescribes oral glucocorticoids that are used to control various allergic reactions and autoimmune disorders, they should be aware that the medicine could cause osteoporosis as a side-effect. If a doctor does not take this into account when making their decision to prescribe such a medicine, they may be found to medically negligent if a serious fracture is subsequently caused by osteoporosis.
If bones are under heavy stress on a regular basis, such as if a person carries out unreasonably difficult physical tasks at work, stress fractures may develop in the back, the lower legs or throughout the arms due to the cracking and bending of bones that can occur from the heavy and repeated stress.
Muscle tears are suffered when groups of muscle fibres are torn. This restricts a person’s ability to use that muscle group effectively and without pain. As a result, it may become difficult for a person to lift the affected limb, go from sitting to standing up or even walk.
Serious muscle injuries can be incapacitating, as a person may suffer high levels of pain as well as inflammation, cramping and spasms in the affected muscle. Some serious muscle injuries can even cause muscle function to be reduced or lost, such as an infarction in the quadriceps.
Accidents that involve the transmission of force to a muscle, with or without piercing the skin and the muscle itself, can cause serious muscle injuries.
If the skin is not pierced, it is likely that serious bruising will be caused, while if it is pierced, the muscle may be torn and ripped.
Trauma that causes serious muscle injuries may take place in a serious motor accident or an accident at work due to defective machinery.
If a muscle is overstretched, a serious muscle injury may be sustained if the muscle fibres are torn.
This is generally caused by limbs being forced into an uncomfortable and unnatural position for the muscles in a motor accident or serious fall or due to machinery in the workplace that traps or pulls a person’s limb or clothes.
Continuous use of a muscle may cause serious muscle injuries as a muscle may suffer small tears over a long period of time that develop into a larger and more severe tear.
Moreover, the overuse of a muscle may cause repetitive fatigue to it, making the muscle weak and more prone to serious tears in the future.
Overuse injuries to muscles are often caused in the workplace where a person’s task is physically challenging and repetitive or if they are not allowed sufficient rest between shifts of physical work.
Ligaments connect bones to other bones and form joints. Their purpose is to either prevent or limit the body’s ability to carry out particular movements to avoid injury.
Torn ligaments can cause weakness and instability in a joint that can last for an indeterminate length of time, even with treatment.
Indeed, this type of ligament injury may require major surgery to repair the damaged ligament in order to stabilise the affected joint.
However, many people are unfortunate as they may not be suitable for this type of surgery if there is scar tissue in the joint as a result of the tear or injury to the ligament.
If this surgical procedure is not an option, the instability and weakness of the affected joint due to the injury may result in serious secondary effects, such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.
Ligaments that if torn can have serious effects on a person’s life include the periodontal ligament in the jaw as well as the three cruciate ligaments and single patella ligament in the knee.
The inflexible and rigid nature of ligaments can mean that they may break if they are put under heavy stress from the trauma of an impact.
Such an injury may be caused by a heavy lifting incident or a fall from a height at work or a motor accident.
A sudden or unbalanced twist on the pivot of a joint can mean that there is too much weight or pressure applied to a joint and ligaments within it due to ligaments having a lack of flexibility. If this happens, a ligament may tear or break.
A twisting injury that causes a serious ligament injury may take place at work if a person must carry an unreasonable weight.
Fractures sustained at a joint may affect the integrity of a ligament by making it stretch, tear or become detached. Please see the section on serious fractures for a more detailed overview of associated fractures.
Tendons withstand the tension that builds up in areas where they connect bone to muscle by working with the muscles to act as shock-absorbers.
Tendons also passively assist with movement associated with the muscle to which they are attached due to their flexible but strong nature.
Ruptures to tendons are capable of healing by themselves, but once a tendon suffers a rupture, it is not likely to regain the extent and efficiency of function it possessed before the injury and further injury to that tendon becomes much more likely. Additionally, tendon ruptures can take a very long time to heal, even with expert medical treatment.
Serious tendon injuries that can have a serious impact on a person’s life include knee tendonitis and a ruptured Achilles tendon.
A tendon may rupture as a result of a forceful impact to it because of the heavy stress that may be imparted upon it.
Such an impact or fall may be due to an accident at work or motor and pedestrian accidents.
Considerable stress upon a muscle may cause it to contract while it is being stretched in the opposite direction. This puts heavy stress on tendons that assist the muscle in question, which may cause ruptures.
Overloading injuries to tendons may occur in the workplace if a person has to lift an unreasonably heavy object.
A consequence of advancing age or generally poor health can be a reduced blood supply to the more remote areas of the body but serious injury or medical negligence can also do the same.
If blood supply to a particular area of the body is restricted due to an injury near that area of the body, such as a fracture that affects the blood vessels, the tendons that are not receiving enough blood may become weak.
Moreover, mistreatment or misdiagnosis by a medical professional may cause blood flow to a particular area of the body to decrease, such as if blood clots are not identified. Where such mistreatment or misdiagnosis causes a tendon rupture, the negligent health professional may be liable for medical negligence.
The musculoskeletal system is fundamental in allowing people to be active, so a serious orthopaedic injury can have a life-changing impact on a person’s life.
This makes the compensation from a successful serious orthopaedic injury claim crucial in order that an injured person may receive professionally tailored rehabilitation, therapy and long term care.
The experience of serious orthopaedic injury claims among our expert solicitors ensures that they are ideal legal representation to pursue a claim for compensation on your behalf. The help they can provide through obtaining compensation for you will go some way to relieving the burden on your shoulders so you can plan ahead for the future while concentrating on your recovery. Without this vital help, serious orthopaedic injuries can have devastating effects on all aspects of a person’s life as well as the lives of those closest to them.
Individual elements of the musculoskeletal system work in tandem to allow the body to perform varied movements.
Damage to it can cause a person to suffer pain if they attempt to move a particular part of the body in a particular way due to the damage caused by the injuries. Movement of certain areas of the body may even become impossible due to the incapacitating effect of serious orthopaedic injuries.
A person suffering from serious orthopaedic injuries may suffer extreme fatigue, particularly in areas of the body that must compensate for the lost function of the injured area of the body.
A joint or bone considered damaged beyond recovery will be amputated. This means that a person may suffer amputation specific symptoms, such as phantom-limb pain. Please see our section on amputations for a more detailed overview.
PTSD is more likely to be suffered by a person who has suffered serious orthopaedic injuries in a traumatic and painful incident, especially if they struggle to forget or move on from the horrible memories of that traumatic event. Please see our section on serious psychiatric injuries for a more detailed overview.
Social activities participated in before serious orthopaedic injuries may not be possible to the same extent or at all for a person who has suffered such an injury due to the nature of the activity in question, such as many sports, and the restrictions in movement they may suffer from for an extended period of time or even permanently.
A person unable to participate in the same activities as before their serious orthopaedic injuries may feel helpless and isolated due to the lack of social interaction they are experiencing in comparison to before their injuries.
The surgical procedures, rehabilitation and therapeutic techniques that have been developed for specific types of orthopaedic injuries are becoming more and more effective at improving the quality of an injured person’s life.
The treatment, rehabilitation and therapy that can be provided for a person suffering from serious orthopaedic injuries aim to maximise the injured person’s independence, structure their time and keep their levels of activity high to make sure that they can make as a full a recovery as possible.
As soon as the nature of the injury is ascertained, this stage of treatment and rehabilitation can begin. It usually involves providing support with anything the person cannot do as a result of their injuries, such as bathing, and performing surgery on parts of the body that are injured to facilitate their recovery. This is usually done in the intensive care unit of a hospital.
The in-patient stage of treatment and rehabilitation either takes place at hospital or in an in-patient centre. It aims to improve functionality, strength and mobility by teaching an injured person exercises and new ways to carry out tasks in their new circumstances in order to maximise their independence.
Out-patients live at home but have rehabilitation sessions at home or at centres. These sessions are tailored to the needs of the injured person and the nature of them can change over time to become more effective and take into account any progress made by the injured person. The general aim of the out-patient stage is to further maximise their ability to live and operate independently.
One type of psychotherapy, called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is extremely effective. It generally targets those with or at risk of depression as a result of their injuries. It aims to discover how an individual’s thought processes affect their actions and the way their actions affect their thought processes. By targeting thought processes and actions that reinforce them, negativity in their thinking can be reduced while positive thoughts are encouraged. This can help to reduce stress levels and allow a person to look ahead to the future by wielding a positive outlook.
Tasks that were previously considered simple by the injured person, such as bathing, are likely to be difficult for many of those suffering from serious orthopaedic injuries because of a lack of capability of movement or due to bandages or plaster casts that protect their injuries.
This type of therapy aims to maximise a person’s independence by helping a person to adapt to their new level of capability in order to perform the tasks they need to on a daily basis.
Physical therapy is tailored to an individual depending on their existing strength post-injury and the nature of the effects of their injury with the aim to make key muscle groups stronger and increase their endurance abilities.
This type of therapy can be very hard and frustrating for an injured person as it can be painful and fatiguing, especially early on in the process, so it is vital that family and friends get on board to encourage and even participate in the completion of physiotherapy in order to improve an injured person’s overall physical condition long term.