The ankle joint is one of the most important, load-bearing parts of the body. It must combine flexibility, stability and strength to support the entire weight of the body while at the same time performing a wide range of movements. In a car accident, the stresses caused by a sudden, violent impact can do terrible damage to this joint, and Portland personal injury attorneys make many claims every year on behalf of people who have suffered ankle injuries after an accident.
Your Ankle Has Many Parts, Making it Vulnerable in an Accident
The ankle joint is composed of many parts of the body, including the large bone in the lower leg (the tibia), a much thinner bone on the outside part of the leg (the fibula), and a rounded bone that joins to the foot (the talus). In addition, numerous ligaments and tendons attach to the ankle joint from just about every direction; they in turn attack to muscles in the calf and foot.
When they’re functioning properly, ankles mostly go ignored, in spite of the incredible amount of work they must do for us. They have to withstand the forces of walking and running, and provide power to the foot, but they must also be able to move in several directions, including side to side. When the ankle is severely traumatized, however, as is often the case in a car or pedestrian accident, it is forced to move in a direction further than it normally would, and when this happens, many different types of ankle injuries can and do occur.
A Sudden Stop Can Be Tough on Your Ankle
When a car crash occurs, the vehicle is going to stop quite suddenly, and when a driver or passenger braces themselves (a natural instinct) with their foot, the ankle can be severely jammed, causing a compression injury. A natural comparison would be falling off a 12-foot ladder and landing on a hard surface, with the feet and ankles bearing the brunt of the fall. At a bare minimum, ligaments (particularly on the outside of the ankle) and tendons will be the most severely affected. If sufficient force is applied to the ankle, a fracture can occur alongside the ligament damage. The resulting ankle injury after an accident will cause immense swelling and pain and may also include a fracture of the heel bone (calcaneous), the talus, or other bones in the foot.
Sometimes a Break is Better than a Tear for Ankle Injuries After an Accident
When tendons tear or ligaments are severely stretched, the healing process may be much longer and more difficult than if the ankle has merely broken. The looseness or weakness of the joint caused when tendons or ligaments are damaged will mean a significantly longer period of recover than if a simple fracture has occurred. Severe ligament disruptions will frequently require surgery, and a prolonged period of recovery will be required before the ankle joint recovers its normal level of mobility and level of strength. In some cases, screws, metal plates or bands may be required to re-attach ligaments to bones.
Portland personal injury attorneys understand that this type of injury can have a severe impact on the quality of life, and the ability to carry out normal, everyday functions. After surgery, a long cast will normally be required, followed by a shorter version and then a soft cast with velcro and plastic, to aid the patient during the recovery process. Extensive and prolonged physical therapy may also be required.
With an Ankle, It Can Be Hard to Diagnose Damages
Because ankles swell to an extreme level after severe trauma, such as would occur in a car or motorcycle accident, it can be difficult for even experienced medical practitioners to determine the extent of the damage at first inspection. In addition, the pain that accompanies such injuries makes it difficult for doctors to assess the damage that has been done. It could be days, or even weeks, before an accurate assessment can be made. Unfortunately, the ankle may begin to set, or heal itself in unnatural positions during this time, which can add to the long-term problems associated with trying to recover from an extreme ankle injury after an accident. A limp may develop which can become permanent. A reliance on crutches may occur, and learning to walk normally may become far more difficult as time passes. These conditions can have devastating and permanent impacts on the quality of life and even the employment prospects of sufferers.
Seek Medical Attention As Soon As Possible
The damage that can be caused by an ankle injury in a car or motorcycle accident may lead to more than just a few weeks of pain for the victim. The ability to run, jog, play basketball or tennis, or even to walk normally can be snatched away forever. If you have sustained an ankle injury in a car crash, motorcycle accident or other similar injury, seek medical attention immediately. A CAT scan may be necessary to determine the full extent of the damage, but it’s vitally important to find out exactly what harm has been done.
Once you’ve received the medical advice and treatment you require, you should seriously consider contacting one of our experienced Portland personal injury attorneys, who will explain to you in clear, concise terms what your options are in terms of making a claim, and what kind of compensation you can expect to receive.