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An orthopaedic injury affects the bones or muscles, such as fractures and sprains, which usually occur following high force or direct trauma to the body.
Injury can also occur as a result of disease or as a consequence of ageing. If these injuries are undiagnosed or untreated, they will cause unnecessary additional pain and suffering and sometimes permanent damage.
It is unfortunately quite common for fractures to go undiagnosed by medical professionals. This may be because a fracture is not suspected, due to incorrect assessment, so the limb is not X-rayed or the X-ray/scan may be misinterpreted leading to the patient receiving no treatment or the wrong treatment.
Treatment depends upon the type of fracture and the severity of the injury and can range from simple R.I.C.E (rest, ice, compression, elevation) to open surgery or even amputation.
There are many different types of fracture:
- Stress fracture- this is a tiny crack in the bone due to overuse and can be a common sporting injury e.g from running on a hard surface.
- Simple fracture (also called a closed fracture) - the bone is broken but the skin is intact
- Compound fractures (also called open fractures) - this is when a broken bone penetrates the skin. Surgery is usually the treatment option, partly to try to reduce the risk of infection as there is an open wound. Injury from a road traffic accident can include compound fractures of limbs. These fractures are the most severe and have the longest recovery time along with the highest risk of complications such as infection and non-union of the bone
- Pathological fracture- bones can fracture where they have been weakened by underlying disease such as osteoporosis
Other descriptions of fractures include those where the bone has been twisted (spiral fracture), where the bone fragments are forced into each other (impacted fracture), where the bone has broken into several places (comminuted fracture) or where one fragment of the bone has separated from the main mass (avulsion or chip fracture).
Another common type of orthopaedic injury is one resulting from negligently performed orthopaedic surgery, or sometimes negligent post-operative treatment. The surgery is not always necessarily for treatment of a fracture, but also includes:
- Hip replacements (total or partial)
- Knee replacements (total or partial)
- Shoulder surgery
- Foot and ankle surgery
- Hand surgery
- General upper or lower limb surgery
Our specialist medical negligence solicitors commonly investigate injuries arising as a result of orthopaedic surgery such as:
- Incorrect surgical procedure or technique causing harm
- Incorrect metalwork or prostheses being inserted e.g the wrong type of hip replacement
- Contraction of infection post-operatively
- Post-operative complications which are undiagnosed or untreated or are not diagnosed in a timely fashion e.g compartment syndrome, bleeding, nerve damage, infection
- Incorrect advice being given post-operatively and/or failures to refer for physiotherapy