Compound Fractures vs. Simple Fractures
Posted in Personal Injury on August 15, 2018
Bone fractures are some of the most common injuries in the United States, and there are many types of fractures. Two of the most common are simple and compound, and each requires specialized treatment depending on its severity, the overall medical status of the victim, and the location of the fracture on the body. Simple fractures tend to heal more easily and with less invasive methods than compound fractures, and it’s possible for a compound fracture to cause additional medical problems.
Mild bone fractures generally fall under the category of “simple” fractures. A simple fracture is any broken bone that does not penetrate the surrounding tissues. This can happen in many different ways, such as:
- Stress fractures. These are hairline cracks in the bone resulting from repetitive motions, overuse, or old injuries.
- Pathologic fractures. These result from diseases like osteoporosis that weaken bones and leave them susceptible to breakage.
- Comminuted fractures, in which a bone breaks into several shards.
- Greenstick fractures. These describe cases in which a bone bends but does not completely break. Much like a branch from a young tree is difficult to break due to the green, fibrous wood under the bark; young children’s bones are more pliable than adults, so these fractures are common in very young children.
- Transverse fractures, which cross the bone perpendicular to the shaft or long portion of the bone.
- Oblique fractures, which run at an angle across the bone.
Any of these types of fractures could qualify as “simple” fractures if the affected bones do not break the skin. Each type requires specialized treatment, but they do not pose the same risks as compound fractures. The recovery time for a simple fracture will vary based on its severity, location, and the overall health of the victim.
The defining factor of a compound fracture is when the broken bone protrudes through the skin. Compound fractures are emergencies requiring immediate medical attention. They are open wounds, so a victim of a compound fracture is susceptible to infections in the deep tissues of the affected area. An unaddressed compound fracture may become infected or gangrenous, and such an injury in one of the extremities could necessitate amputation.
A compound fracture will require surgery to correct. Depending on the location of the fracture, the patient may require steel plates, screws, or steel rods to keep the bones in the correct places so they heal as well as possible. Many compound fractures will lead to chronic pain and leave victims more susceptible to future injuries. It’s important to remember that it may be difficult to identify a compound fracture at first. For example, a compound fracture in a leg may not leave much of a visible mark on the exterior of the skin, but the victim is still highly vulnerable to infection and shock. Compound fractures are also incredibly painful both initially and during recovery.
Legal Concerns for Bone Fractures
If you or a loved one suffered a bone fracture due to the negligence of another party, you can recover compensation for your damages through a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party. The jury takes the pain and suffering involved in an injury into account when deciding compensation for plaintiffs, so a compound fracture that was likely very painful and required much more extensive corrective treatment than a simple fracture will likely yield much more in pain and suffering damages.
It’s important to remember that any type of bone fracture can lead to secondary medical complications, long-term disability or impaired range of motion, and may interfere with the victim’s ability to work. In these cases, a personal injury lawyer will be a tremendous asset for recovering compensation after a bone fracture injury.