Putting out a hand to break a fall is natural, and it may prevent more serious injuries, depending on the situation. However, it can result in broken hand, wrist and arm bones, which then require weeks of healing time and loss of use of the affected limb.
The Cleveland Clinic explains the basics of bone fractures.
Closed fractures do not break the skin, while open fractures do. A break in the bone changes its shape, but stress fractures are cracks that may be difficult to pinpoint, even with x-rays. Partial fractures are more obvious, but they still do not go completely through the bone. A complete fracture does go through, separating the two sides of the bone. More serious breaks include:
- Displaced: a gap between bone pieces
- Impacted: bones driven together
- Comminuted: shattered bones
- Compression: crushed or flattened bones
Avulsion is when tendons or ligaments pull part of a bone away. Tendons are the anchors that hold muscles and bones together, while ligaments are connectors between two bones.
Casts or splints that immobilize the area until the bone pieces grow back together are typical fracture treatments. More serious breaks may require traction, which stretches the muscles and tendons so that the bone can remain aligned while healing. Sometimes doctors must perform surgery to affix the bone pieces with structures such as screws and frames.
Internal bleeding can cause many complications after a fracture, such as bleeding into the surrounding muscles or bleeding into a joint. These can cause swelling and other issues. Blood clots are also a common complication of fractures.
When people fall because a property owner or manager did not keep floors and surfaces clean and safe, the responsible party may be liable for the cost of medical treatment and other damages.