Some of the most common injuries sustained in car accidents are injuries to the arm and elbow, injuries that can be debilitating and permanent.
According to our St. Louis car accident lawyer, there could be various causes of arm pain after a car accident. If you are experiencing tingling, numbness or pain the arm, it may be due to a whiplash injury. A sprain, strain or fracture might occur when you brace yourself for the impact. While the causes of arm pain could be many, whiplash is possibly the most common. Let us see how car accident injury can cause pain, tingling or numbness in the arm.
The brachial plexus is the network of nerves emerging from the spinal cord in the neck. These nerves travel down the arms and hand. In a car accident, the brachial plexus may get injured, and this can cause arm pain. A study was conducted to study the relation between arm and hand pain and neck injury after a motor vehicle accident.
A test called Brachial Plexus Test was developed and used to distinguish between arm pain arising from the arm itself and the one resulting from neck injuries. This test was then used on patients who reported pain, tingling, and numbness in the arm after a car accident.
Surprisingly, the brachial plexus test showed that neck injuries, even if they are minor, can lead to radiating arm pain. The study also found substantial evidence that arm pain after a car accident (in case of a brachial plexus injury) can cause increased spasms and swelling, which can lead to an increase in abnormal healing.
Causes of Broken Arms
Broken arms are one of the most common injuries caused by car accidents. A broken arm from a car accident is usually caused by direct trauma, either from hitting the arm on the door or dashboard when impact occurs or from an airbag. A sudden impact to the vehicle can also cause direct contact with the arm especially in situations such as T-bone accidents or side-impact accidents. If an arm injury results from a car accident, it can cause the arm to be crushed, causing multiple fractures of the arm.
The vulnerability of the Arms
Despite all of the safety features available in cars, including shoulder belts and seat belts, severe and even permanent arm injuries can occur in a crash. Arms and elbows are always exposed while driving, so the chances of sustaining an injury to these areas are high. Any frontal or side crash that forces the driver to brace for the impact or causes any debris to hit the arms can lead to arm injuries. Bone fractures are the most common arm injuries suffered in a car accident. A broken or fractured arm means that one or more of the bones have been cracked. Some car accidents, particularly side impact collisions, can cause multiple fractures in the arm and elbow.
Arm Injuries Caused by Car Accidents:
- Humerus fracture – A crack or break in the upper arm often occurs when extended arms brace for the crash and take the force of impact, for example, when holding the steering wheel.
- Radius or ulna fracture – A crack or break in one or both of the bones of the forearm. Forearm fractures usually occur when outstretched arms are exposed in a car accident.
- Distal humerus fracture – A fracture that occurs at the end of the humerus near the elbow joint can cause damage to both the joint and cartilage and lead to elbow stiffness and arthritis. These type of fractures occur in severe car accidents.
- Supracondylar fracture – When the upper arm bone cracks or breaks slightly above the elbow.
- Olecranon fracture – Olecranon is the bony structure at the tip of the elbow. This bone can get cracked or broken in the event of a crash.
- Condylar fracture – A fracture of the elbow knob, which, if not treated properly, can lead to nerve damage.
Symptoms of a Broken Arm
If you suspect a broken arm after a car accident, seek immediate medical help. Some of the common symptoms of a broken arm are:
- intense pain and increased pain when moving the arm
- evident deformity when compared with the other arm
- an open wound either as a direct result of the accident or from the bone puncturing the skin
- inability to move the injured area or decreased sensation in the area
Treatment of Fractured Arm
If you suspect a broken arm, take the following steps:
- Stabilize the arm: Make a simple sling using a towel or similar object by placing it under your arm and around the neck. This will keep the arm immobile, reduce pain, and prevent the injury from worsening.
- Apply an ice pack: Apply ice to the injured area to prevent swelling. Place the ice bag on the affected area for 20-30 minutes at a time.
- Wear a splint or partial cast: The doctor may give you a partial cast or splint depending on which part of the arm is broken. This will help keep the broken bone stabilized and aid recovery.
- Pain medication: The doctor may prescribe pain medication to minimize pain.
In severe cases, the patient may require hospitalization. Some situations in which the patient may require more extensive treatment and hospitalization include:
- There are severe lacerations in the affected area.
- The bone has broken through the skin.
- Fractures associated with nerve damage.
- Fractures associated with blood vessel damage.
- Complicated fractures that involve the joints, multiple breaks, or cannot be stabilized in the emergency room.
Free Consultation with a St. Louis Car Accident Lawyer
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