Foot, Ankle, Knee, Leg & Hip Injury
Foot, ankle, knee, leg and hip injuries occur every day. Causes of these injuries include slip/trip and fall accidents, boat and automobile collisions, falling objects and work-related accidents. These injuries can result in fractures, ligament damage, carpal tunnel syndrome, dislocated and diseased joints, nerve damage, as well as, muscle problems.
Fractures can be caused by direct blows, twisting injuries or falls. Fractures are often easy to diagnose because there can be an obvious deformity. At times, however, fractures cannot be easily diagnosed. It is important for the physician to take a history of the injury to decide what potential problems might exist. Moreover, fractures don't always occur in isolation, and there may be associated injuries that need to be addressed. The type of force applied on a bone very often determines the type of resulting injury. Descriptions of fractures can be confusing, but are based upon:
- Where the break occurs,
- How the bone fragments are aligned, and
- Whether any complications exist.
The first step in describing a fracture is whether it is open or closed. If the skin over the break is disrupted, then an open fracture exists. The skin can be cut, torn or abraded (scraped), but if the skin's integrity is damaged, the potential for an infection to get into the bone exists. Since the fracture site in the bone communicates with the outside world, these injuries need to be cleaned out aggressively and many times require anesthesia in the operating room to do the job effectively.
Nerve damage causes neuropathic pain which is a chronic complex pain state that usually is accompanied by tissue injury. With neuropathic pain, the nerve fibers themselves may be damaged, dysfunctional or injured. These damaged nerve fibers send incorrect signals to other pain centers. The impact of nerve fiber injury includes a change in nerve function both at the site of injury and areas around the injury.
Symptoms of neuropathic pain include shooting and burning sensations as well as tingling and numbness of the body's extremities. One example of neuropathic pain is called phantom limb syndrome. This occurs when an arm or a leg has been removed because of illness or injury, but the brain still gets pain messages from the nerves that originally carried impulses from the missing limb. These nerves now misfire and cause pain.
Neuropathic pain often seems to have no obvious cause; but, some common causes of neuropathic pain include:
- Joint Dislocation
- Spinal Surgery
Muscle damage generally causes the muscle to spasm or cramp. Muscle spasms or cramps are an involuntary contraction of a muscle. These occur suddenly, usually resolve quickly, and are often painful.
Spasms can occur when a muscle is overused and tired, particularly if it is overstretched or if it has been held in the same position for a prolonged period of time. In effect, the muscle cell runs out of energy and fluid and becomes hyper excitable and develops a forceful contraction. This spasm may involve part of a muscle, the whole muscle, or even adjacent muscles. Overuse as a cause of skeletal muscle spasm is often seen in workers who are doing strenuous activities in a hot environment. Usually, these spasms will occur in the large muscles that are being asked to do the work.
It is also commonly thought that dehydration and depletion of electrolytes will lead to muscle spasm and cramping. Muscle requires enough water, glucose, sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium to allow the proteins within muscle cells to interact and develop an organized contraction. Abnormal levels of these elements can cause the muscle to become irritable and spasm.
Atherosclerosis, or narrowing of the arteries, may also lead to muscle spasm and cramps because adequate blood supply and nutrients are not able to be delivered to the appropriate muscle. Leg spasms are often seen related to exercise but cramps may also be seen at night involving calf and toe muscles.
If you suffered an injury to your foot, ankle, knee, leg or hip and would like to discuss your legal rights, do not hesitate to contact us.