When you’ve been in a car accident, there are a number of common car accident injuries that can occur depending on the severity of the crash, where you were seated in the car, and whether or not you were wearing your seat belt. You might be surprised to know that what seems like a small fender-bender can actually cause a serious injury like a broken bone. That’s because the force of impact can jostle you around even while the seat belt does its best to protect you. Scrapes, bruises, and soreness are most common in less serious car accidents, but broken bones can still happen.
What’s the Difference Between a Fracture and a Broken Bone?
Broken bone is the common term for what the medical field refers to as a fracture. That means broken bones and fractures are actually the same thing! We most often think of broken bones as a clean break where a bone snaps in half or even protrudes from the skin, known as a compound fracture. However, there are many types of fractures, including what might seem like cracks in the bone that are known as hairline fractures. The body has over 200 bones, so a break or fracture can occur in a lot of places depending on how your body was impacted by the accident.
What Causes a Broken Bone in a Car Accident?
Many people don’t realize that seat belts are actually primarily used to prevent you from being ejected from the vehicle during a crash. When worn properly, the seat belt protects the trunk of your body and holds you in place during the worst of a crash. However, seat belts can also cause injuries, especially near the shoulder, across the chest, and at the waist, especially if they are worn improperly. Serious car accidents and impacts can lead to bruising, cuts, and even broken bones along where the seat belt restrained you. You can also get a broken bone from the impact of an arm or leg against a part of the vehicle, like the steering wheel, dashboard, or windows.
5 Most Frequently Broken Bones in a Car Accident
Here are the five most frequently broken bones that can occur during a car accident:
The bones of the face are more delicate than other sturdier bones in the body, which makes them more susceptible to damage or fracture. It is possible to break a bone, like in your nose or across your cheek, if the accident caused your head to fling forward and make contact with the steering wheel or dashboard. Facial fractures should be handled by a skilled car accident orthopedic doctor who can treat this kind of complex injury.
The clavicle is most commonly referred to as the collarbone, which is the bone that extends from your shoulder to the center of your chest. It is common to experience an injury or fracture to the clavicle because of where the seat belt goes across your chest. Clavicle injuries are tricky because you cannot get a cast like you would for an arm or leg, so an orthopedic doctor and physical therapist will work together to help you heal from a clavicle fracture.
The sternum is most commonly referred to as the breastbone and is the place where your ribs connect in the middle of your chest. Rib bones are sturdy and designed to protect your lungs and other organs inside your chest. A sternum fracture can occur when the force of the accident causes you to lurch forward suddenly and strain against the seat belt.
Broken bones in your arms, hands, and wrists are common car accident injuries because the impact can cause your arms to flail around unexpectedly. You may also try to brace yourself for impact by gripping the steering wheel tighter or putting your hands out onto the dashboard. These types of reflexive protective measures can actually end up causing you harm by putting too much pressure on the bones and joints in your arms.
It is also possible to break your leg or knee during a car accident, especially if the wreck compromises the integrity of the vehicle. If you get hit from the side, for example, parts of the car may become damaged and directly impact your leg. It is also possible for the knees to jam into the dashboard or other part of the car and lead to a fracture.
Our team of car accident doctors at Pro-Care Medical Center treats all types of car accident injuries, including broken bones. Visit us online to find a location near you and learn more about how we can help you heal from your car accident injuries.