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What You Need to Know About Slip and Fall Fractures

Slips, trips, and falls are one of the most common causes of injury in the United States. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), falls account for almost nine million emergency room visits on average over the course of a year.

Fall incidents can generally cause a number of injuries, including strains and sprains, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), and bone fractures. In a previous blog, “Falls Continue to Be the Number One Cause of Serious Brain Injury,” we discussed the clear correlation that slip and fall incidents have with head and brain injuries.

In this blog, we’ll take a look at another common slip and fall injury: bone fractures.

How Bone Fractures Occur

Bone fractures generally happen when there is a direct impact against the bone or when there is an abrupt directional change. For example, during a slip and fall incident, an arm fracture could occur because the limb hit a solid surface as you fell or because you were holding onto an unmoving object when you fell. In some cases, the fracture is obvious. You may experience acute pain, notice deformation of the area, or even see visible bone. However, many fractures are smaller. Hairline fractures, for example, can be difficult to diagnose even with X-ray imaging because of their small size. Regardless of the type of fracture, a medical professional must examine the break and set the bone to ensure that you heal properly.

Most Common Bone Fractures

During a slip and fall incident, a victim is most likely to sustain fractures to specific bones. The most common bone fractures after a fall include damage to the following areas:

  • Ankle
  • Forearm
  • Hand
  • Hip
  • Lower leg
  • Wrist
  • Upper arm

These fractures often occur because the victim tried to catch his or herself and avoid more serious injury.

But, as mentioned above, fractures can also occur because of the angle of the fall. For example, a person who slipped in a puddle could experience an ankle fracture due to the sudden directional change of the ankle and foot bones.

Signs of an Undiagnosed Fracture

If you have a small or hairline fracture, the injury may be overlooked in an initial exam after the slip and fall incident. Pay attention to your injuries and note any significant change in the appearance or sensation of an injured area.

You may have an undiagnosed fracture if you notice the following:

  • Change in limb appearance, including deformation of the joints or twisting
  • Limb numbness, reduced movement, or paralysis
  • Localized swelling or bruising
  • Pulse weakness below the fracture, especially if the fracture is in the arm

Untreated fractures can decrease joint mobility and cause long-term discomfort. If you notice these symptoms, have the affected area examined again. Unaddressed fractures can cause the following complications:

  • Arthritis development
  • Bone warping or deformation
  • Chronic pain
  • Decreased range of movement or limited movement type
  • Infection in the bone itself or in the internal tissues

Remember, fractures where the bone fragments line up may not feel significantly painful right away. If you experience sudden pain in an area a few hours, or even a few days, after your accident, the discomfort may indicate a fracture.

Identifying the location, type, and severity of a fracture is a vital step in getting the medical care you need. If you recently slipped and have had any of the symptoms of a bone fracture, seek further diagnosis.

Have you experienced a fall caused by unsafe conditions on private or commercial property? You may have a premise liability personal injury claim. Consult with the team at Gelman Gelman Wiskow & McCarthy LLC to determine how best to proceed.

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