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When can a broken bone lead to permanent disability?

Workers’ compensation offers both temporary and permanent benefits if someone cannot work because of a job-acquired medical condition. Broken bones are often injuries that people recover from quickly.

After two or three months, the bone will heal, and another month of physical therapy and careful use can help regain full functionality in the affected body part. However, occasionally a worker who breaks a bone may need long-term or permanent benefits because of the fracture. When might a broken bone lead to lasting disability?

When the body heals improperly

Sometimes, trauma like a fracture can cause lasting damage to nearby nerves tissue. Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a painful condition that people develop sometimes after breaking a bone.

Instead of recovering from your pain as you heal, your pain will get worse or change when the bone is no longer broken. CRPS has no cure and can permanently alter someone’s ability to work.

When the bone breaks in multiple places

A spiral fracture occurs when twisting force leads to a broken bone. Unlike many other kinds of fractures, spiral fractures often lead to long-term medical consequences. Doctors may not be able to fully set the bone and may need to surgically install an implant to reinforce it.

People with a spiral and other serious fractures may permanently struggle with pain, reduced strength and decreased flexibility in the affected body part. They can impact your earning potential or even force you into early retirement. Identifying the possible long-term consequences of an injury can help you as you navigate a workers’ compensation claim or consider a settlement offer.