Overview of Injuries from a Bicycle Accident: Broken Bones

Although many bicyclists suffer superficial trauma in an accident – such as contusions, lacerations and abrasions – it’s not uncommon to sustain internal injuries such as broken bones in a more serious crash.

What are some common fractures that occur in a bike accident?

The most common breaks are fractures to the arms and legs. These parts of the body are especially vulnerable since there is no protection between the bicyclist and a car, the ground, or any other objects around the roadway. When there is forceful impact to the limbs, they are susceptible to breaking.

The following are some types of broken bones:

  • simple – fracture in one place;
  • compound – broken bone pierces the skin;
  • comminuted – multiple bone fragments;
  • displaced – pieces aren’t aligned; and
  • transverse fracture – break at a right angle to the long axis of bone.

Another type of fracture is a skull fracture. It could be accompanied by brain damage as well. Symptoms may or may not be immediately evident.

Symptoms of a skull fracture include:

  • headache;
  • bleeding;
  • loss of consciousness; and
  • other signs.

A bike accident can also lead to facial fractures. A common type is a mandibular fracture, which is a break in the lower jaw. They tend to be noticeable because there is usually swelling and the individual is unable to move the jaw.

How do medical professionals diagnose and treat fractures?

X-rays and other imaging tests like CT scans can detect broken bones. Depending on where the break occurs, immobilizing the area may be necessary immediately after the accident. This may involve the use of a splint.

The bone must be positioned appropriately so it heals. Some breaks necessitate immediate surgery to position the bone. Surgeons may reposition bones and may have to use screws or other materials to keep them in place. After surgery, the doctor may use splints or casts to keep the bone set. But many broken bones do not require surgery to properly set them; this is called closed reduction.

What is the healing period for a broken bone?

Recovery depends on the injury and person. A fracture typically takes several weeks to heal. But if it’s a particularly serious break or there are multiple fractures, recovery could be much longer.

The person’s age and health will be factors in the healing period. For instance, older adults may have brittle bones. Bones could also take longer to heal if the person is diabetic.

Even after removal of a cast or splint, doctors may advise patients to avoid putting too much pressure and stress on the bone for several weeks. Patients should always consult their doctor and/or physical therapist about rehabbing a broken bone.

Treatment – as well as lost wages while receiving treatment and recuperating – can create financial hardship for some accident victims. If another individual caused your accident – such as a driver who turned in front of your bike – you may have grounds for a legal claim. Call D.J. Banovitz at (303) 300-5060 to discuss the case.