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Joint and Ligament Injuries Caused by an Accident

joint injury car accidentSome of the most common injuries after an accident occur to the bones, tendons, ligaments and joints. While it may seem straightforward, these are some of the most complicated injuries to diagnose and treat after the incident. 

Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to detect the full extent of a joint or ligament injury immediately after an accident. The stiffness, decreased mobility and pain may take weeks or months to show itself. If it doesn't go away over time, something is wrong.

Soft tissue injuries may be just as serious as obvious broken bones. But the joint and muscle damage might not be clear on a routine x-ray or CT scan. Consulting with a medical professional is always a smart decision.

Joint Injuries

A joint is the physical point or spot of connection between two bones. Joints contain a multitude of fibrous connective tissue such as ligaments which connect the two bones or tendons, which connect muscles to either bone or cartilage. 

There are six types of joints in the human body:

  • Ball and socket joints
  • Hinge joints
  • Condyloid joints
  • Pivot joints
  • Gliding joints
  • Saddle joints

Car accidents, or any type of personal injury matter, can damage one or more joints. But at our personal injury law firm, joint injuries most commonly occur in auto accidents. They may also happen in bicycle or motorcycle collisions.

When the body is involved in an accident, it will often twist or bend at the arms, legs, back and pelvis area to brace for impact. The pressure, rapid movement, stretching and jamming motions committed do damage to the joints. 

Torsion, or a twisting motion, can damage the flexible joints. Straight line force can tear the muscles and tendons away from the bones.

Muscle and Ligament Tears

When ligaments undergo tremendous amounts of stress in an accident, they can either stretch or tear. This is commonly referred to as a sprain, and while it may sound minor, these injuries can be painful and debilitating. 

There are some common types of ligament injuries, most of which you’ve probably heard of:

  • Knee sprains or tears to the MCL, ACL, LCL, PCL
  • Wrist, elbow or ankle sprains
  • Injured or torn rotator cuff (torn shoulder muscles)
  • Neck or back sprain
  • Torn meniscus (the cartilage that provides a cushion between the thigh bone and shinbone)

Ligament injuries are classified in terms of severity:

  • Grade 1 (mild): Slight stretching and minor damage to the fibers of the ligament
  • Grade 2 (moderate): Partial tear of the ligament. There is looseness in the joint when moved certain ways
  • Grade 3 (severe): Complete tear. Makes the ligament unstable and nonfunctional

Avulsion Fractures

An avulsion fracture is when the tendon or ligament pulls away from the bone and some of the bone remains attached to the muscle fibers. These injuries are much more common in younger people, who have weaker bones that are more likely to split from the muscle in this way.

Treatment for an avulsion fracture is similar to a muscle sprain. Fractures will usually heal with simple care (ice, exercise to stretch the tendon, etc.). 

However, if the bone fragments have been displaced too far from the main bone to fuse naturally, surgery may be required.

Consult With an Experienced Accident Attorney

If you have been involved in an accident which resulted in a joint or ligament injury, it is important to discuss the circumstances of your case with an experienced car accident attorney who can help to protect your legal rights and interests. 

To contact a personal injury attorney for a free case evaluation please feel free to call Davis Law Group, P.S., at (206) 727-4000 today.