Where two or more bones come together in the human body you have what is called a joint. Examples of joints include shoulders, elbows, wrists in the upper limbs and hips, knees and ankles in the lower limbs.
Joints work wonderfully well when we are uninjured. This is because where two or more bones meet to form a joint, the end of each bone forming the joint is covered with a substance called articular cartilage. Articular cartilage creates a very smooth surface at the end of each bone so that when they rub together there is minimal friction thus resulting in no pain and a joint that works perfectly.
It is not uncommon for those persons in a road accident to sustain bony injuries – a fracture or multiple fractures. Fractures often involve damage occurring to the articular cartilage of the effected bone. When this occurs there is a risk that the injured person will develop osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is caused when articular cartilage is damaged or has worn away thus resulting in increased friction between the bones forming the joint. When the articular cartilage is damaged or worn the joint is exposed to additional wear and tear through the process of bone rubbing against bone. As bone rubs against bone it causes inflammation and pain.
It is not uncommon for road accident victims to develop osteoarthritis after major bony trauma to a joint. Unless the damage to the articular cartilage is severe, osteoarthritis will typically develop years after the initial trauma – years after the road accident itself. It is a condition that progressively worsens with time. Sometimes, this condition takes many years to develop after a road accident. However, when it does develop it is often disabling.
The pain caused by osteoarthritis is quite disabling for many people. This is especially so if osteoarthritis develops in a weight bearing joint such as the hip, knee or ankle.
As osteoarthritis progresses, typically pain increases, movements of the joint become more restricted and the disabling effects of the condition also increase.
Joint replacement surgery has been developed to treat severe osteoarthritis. Procedures such as hip and knee replacements are commonly performed to treat severe osteoarthritis. A fusion is another procedure that can be used to treat severe osteoarthritis. This involves surgery to fuse two or more bones together at the joint. It is usually recommend for badly damaged smaller joints, such as the wrist, elbow or ankle, where joint replacement surgery is not considered appropriate.
Hence, those accident victims who were injured as the result of the fault of another person and who sustained bony injuries, fractures and damage to weight bearing joints should seek legal advice about their entitlement to recover common law damages based on what the future may hold even if at present the symptoms are not disabling.
For more information about this condition and how an entitlement to TAC common law claims could be available, you should telephone either Peter Burt or Clara Davies, specialist TAC Claims Lawyers of Burt & Davies, Level 11, 451 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne. They are both Accredited Personal Injury Lawyers who practice exclusively in transport accident compensation & TAC claims.
Telephone (03) 9605 3111 or freecall 1800 109 940
© Burt & Davies 2014