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Shattered bones: What to expect

In collisions, one of the most common injuries is a broken bone. Depending on the severity of the collision, the bone may be broken in one or two places, or it could be shattered.

Shattered bones are particularly dangerous. A severely broken bone often requires surgery and implants to hold the pieces in place as they heal. Even with this assistance, the healing process can take many months or years, and the person's bone may never really be the same again.

What happens when a bone is shattered?

When bones shatter, surgery is necessary to open the affected area of the body and clean out any bone shards. Larger pieces are typically put back into place as closely as possible, using implanted devices, such as pins, to hold them together.

Any time surgery is necessary, there are some complication risks. These include complications such as:

  • Arthritis after healing, especially when the joint is affected
  • Nerve or blood vessel damage, which can lead to nerve pain, numbness, bleeding and other issues
  • Osteomyelitis, which is a bone infection that has the potential to become life-threatening
  • Unequal leg length, which is a result of damage to a growth plate. This is only common in children.
  • Compartment syndrome, which causes pain and occasionally disability in the muscles around a broken bone

Even if the surgery goes well, there is a risk of infection and bleeding.

How long does it take bones to heal?

A typical broken bone heals well enough to use it within six to eight weeks, but that's referring to when there is a typical break. Shattered bones can take many months to heal, and even then, they may not heal correctly. This can lead to a need for further corrective surgeries.

Working closely with a medical team can help prevent the bone from healing incorrectly by keeping a close eye on your recovery. However, this can still happen and lead to further surgeries to reduce pain or to help with dysfunction.

If you suffer a badly broken bone, be patient with your recovery. You can pursue a legal claim that could result in the person who caused the accident to cover your expenses and financial losses, so you can focus on your own healing. At this time, resting, recovering and completing any required medical treatments is the most important thing for you to do. Keep in mind that settling too soon could preclude recovery from complications or the cost of necessary future surgeries. An experienced attorney can help you evaluate when to seek settlement and help you monitor the applicable statute of limitations to protect your claim. 

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