The radius and ulna are the two bones in the lower arm. Hence, a distal radius fracture is a fracture of the radius bone at about an inch to the wrist. It is a harrowing experience.
This fracture can happen to people of all ages and for different reasons. Often, a distal radius fracture in young people is caused by falling while performing a high-energy task. As long as the force is severe enough, this fracture is possible. Such intense pressures can result from accidents or falling from high places and moving vehicles.
According to a publication by the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, distal radius fractures make up 8%-15% of bone-related injuries in adults. This figure makes it one of the most common injuries encountered in orthopedic practice. This is common because there can be many distal radius fractures.
Types of Distal Radius Fractures
Different cases of fracture to the radius can be classified based on the fracture’s position. A National Library of Medicine publication states that the most common distal radius fracture is a Colles fracture.
In the Colles fracture, the broken part of the radius tilts upwards. Although it is not always the case, in this type, there’s usually a complete separation of the two parts; the wrist and the arm.
Another type is the intra-articular fracture. This one extends into the wrist joint (“articular” means “joint.”). Typically all distal radius breakage occurs on the radius, but for this, the wrist joint is affected.
An intra-articular fracture case is seen in Cabezas v. City of New York. He suffered a comminuted intra-articular distal radius fracture and struggled to grab, carry, and hold objects.
Another type is the extra-articular fracture. This type of fracture is the opposite of the intra-articular one. It does not extend to the joint.
Additionally, there is the comminuted fracture in which a bone is broken into more than two pieces. An example is seen in the case of Hayes v. NORMANDIE LLC. Here, the plaintiff sustained a comminuted fracture of the right radius. It extended into the right wrist and required inserting a metal plate and screws that the orthopedic surgeon must remove later. This metal insertion process is excruciating.
Lastly, it can also be an open fracture. This one occurs when a fractured bone breaks the skin. It requires more urgent attention as it can quickly get infected, leading to complications.
Complications from a Distal Radius Fracture
The complications that arise from a distal fracture begin to show up right from the symptoms. It causes pain, tenderness, bruising, and swelling in the affected area. In many cases, there is also a noticeable deformity or bending of the wrist.
Besides these, other complications can occur. There could be tendon irritation and rupture, nerve injury, malunion and nonunion. Orthopedics also have to consider posttraumatic arthritis when treating distal radius fractures.
However, in more severe fractures, one can feel numbness in the fingers because the hand nerves could be affected. This lack of feeling has to be addressed immediately to prevent permanent damage.
There could also be a ligament tear alongside the fracture. An example is seen in the case of Crowe v. Marchand. Here, the orthopedic surgeon recommended a method of treatment that was doing more harm than good and led to significant complications. The plaintiff, with a distal radius fracture, had a ligament tear.
If the tear had been treated better earlier, it could have been salvaged, but it further led to reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD). This RSD is a condition that is typically associated with distal radius fractures. It causes pain and stiffness and can lead to a permanent loss of function in the affected wrist.
Similarly, in the case of Donaldson v. Maffucci, the orthopedic doctor needed to act faster in the initial information they got from the examination. This negligence led to a deformity in the wrist and stiffness in the finger joints.
Presenting Law Graphics as Evidence to Win a Distal Radius Fracture Case
When presenting a case for a medical occurrence, an attorney usually needs aid for the judge and jurors to grasp the concepts thoroughly. This point is where law graphics come in. In illustrating a distal radius fracture, law graphics can start from the beginning of the injury, which is the hit or fall.
There must have been enough trauma to the bone for a fracture on the radius. Some hits even cause ligaments to sever too. The attorney can illustrate the intensity of the impact or fall and the region it happened. This depiction will give a clearer view of how the orthopedic could have handled the fracture. The intensity of the trauma determines the severity of the injury.
Also, mentioning the fact that the region of impact will also determine treatment can lead the attorney to illustrate the types of distal radius fractures. Using law graphics and an expert witness, they can expose the orthopedic doctor’s poor response time or negligence, just like in the cases above.
Finally, the attorney can illustrate the surgery process for distal radius fractures and what went wrong to cause complications. They can showcase the malunion, lack of feeling in the hand, and other complications that can arise. This aspect can also be done with help from an expert witness. It’ll emanate compassion in the judge and jurors when they see the pain the plaintiff had to go through at the hands of an ill-qualified practitioner.
Distal radius fractures come in different forms. The orthopedic is required to know how to treat all conditions adequately. Adequate treatment will mean fewer complications and quicker recovery time for the patients. Anything short of this, law graphics can give the plaintiff a practical court session. At Fox-AE, we create such law graphics.
Our animators are experienced in crafting demonstrative exhibits that clearly showcase the facts of the case as well as the opinion of expert witnesses. We work closely with parties involved in a case to ensure that we create demonstrative exhibits that are accurate, void of ambiguity, and admissible.