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Tackling Serious Pain Linked to an Orthopedic Injury

Orthopedic injuries can encompass a huge range of different conditions. Whenever the musculoskeletal system is injured, it's an orthopedic injury. Acute orthopedic injuries are typically the result of trauma or an accident. Many orthopedic injuries are mild and heal within a few days, but more serious ones can cause significant pain and even disability.

Orthopedic injuries can cause ongoing pain as they heal. They may need to be corrected with surgery, which also involves long recovery times. Pain management can become complicated if the injury leads to chronic pain issues even after it heals.

Pain management has come a long way over the past decade. Today there are new drugs available, as well as new modes of drug delivery. Advances in technology have led to new surgical treatments and shorter hospital stays, which gives orthopedic injury victims many more options when it comes to pain control. These include adrenergic agents and local anesthetics.

Categories of Orthopedic Injury

The broad spectrum of orthopedic injury can be narrowed down to a few different categories. Any of the following can cause ongoing pain and interfere with your ability to enjoy activities you used to before your injury.

  • Dislocations, in which a bone becomes partially or fully separated from its joint
  • Fractures, in which a bone develops a crack or chip
  • Breaks, in which a bone fully breaks
  • Hernia, in which fatty tissue or an organ moves through surrounding muscle
  • Impingement, in which nerves become "pinched"
  • Overuse injuries, which encompass any muscle, tendon, and ligament injury caused by overuse
  • Sprains, in which one or more ligaments becomes injured due to wrenching or overextension

As you get older, your risk for certain injuries increases. Older people are at a higher risk of orthopedic conditions that need to be evaluated by specialists. Most osteoarthritis sufferers are middle-aged or older. Age causes you to develop osteoporosis, which is a loss of bone density. This means you’ll be more likely to break or suffer compression fractures.

The Most Common Orthopedic Injuries

Acute injuries are those that occur because of a trauma. These are the acute orthopedic injuries you are most likely to suffer:

  • Sprained ankles: The ankle may become sprained if you're playing sports, dancing, doing aerobics, doing high-impact activities, or even if you step wrong on uneven ground.
  • ACL tears: The ACL is the ligament running at a diagonal through the knee. An ACL tear can make bending your knee hard and might cause instability when you stand.
  • Meniscus tears: Your meniscus lets your knee carry your weight and turn. Elderly individuals and professional athletes are most likely to tear their meniscus.
  • Plantar fasciitis: The ligament in your heel is repeatedly strained and becomes chronically inflamed, leading to heel pain when you stand and walk.
  • Shoulder dislocations: The bones in the shoulder joint become misaligned or pop completely out of place. This causes severe pain.
  • Rotator cuff tears: The rotator cuff becomes injured or degenerates with time. This makes it difficult to move the affected shoulder and raise the affected arm.
  • Tennis elbow: A condition in which overusing certain arm muscles leads to elbow pain.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome: A pinching of the nerve in the wrist that leads to tingling, numbness, cramping, and pain in the hand.
  • Wrist fractures: A crack in one or more of your wrist bones, usually after falling onto your hand.
  • Stress fractures: An injury to the bone that occurs because the muscles are weakened with overuse. This makes the bones more susceptible to damage from impacts.
  • Compression fractures: Small cracks in a bone that can cause the bone to collapse. These most commonly occur with osteoporosis.

An orthopedic injury often requires long-term medical care, which may include surgeries and medications for pain. It's also common for people to be unable to stand for weeks or even months. This is devastating for individuals who do manual labor or otherwise need to be on their feet to do their jobs.

If you are unable to work due to your orthopedic injury pain and your injury was caused by another party’s negligence, you may want to consult with an attorney. If your injury happened at work, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation that will cover some of your costs.