Compartment Syndrome and Car Crashes
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Personal Injury Attorney. When people think about car accidents and the injuries that occurred from them, they likely think about severe lacerations and broken bones. However, one of the most devastating complications doesn’t have to do with cuts or broken bones at all. Compartment syndrome is a serious complication that has numerous causes.
There are many different complications and comorbidities that someone can develop from traumatic injuries. However, compartment syndrome is among the most severe. When someone develops compartment syndrome, there is swelling that takes place in one or more of their extremities. This happens as a reaction to trauma just as someone might develop swelling around the site of a bone fracture. However, with compartment syndrome, there are some other significant implications as well. Someone who develops compartment syndrome may start to notice some different symptoms, such as:
- Pallor: They may look at their extremity and see that it looks pale compared to the rest of their body. This happens as a result of compression of vital blood vessels that feed the extremity, limiting the flow of blood.
- Pulseless: The pulses that feed that extremity may also feel a little bit light or absent altogether. This also happens because the blood vessels are compressed, limiting the pulsations of blood flow to the region.
- Paresthesia: This is the technical term given to the pins and needles sensation that people feel when one of their limbs “falls asleep” for a while. Compartment syndrome can compress nerves just as blood vessels are constricted. This irritates the nerves and leads to paresthesias.
- Pain: Extreme nerve compression can lead to chronic pain in the area. This pain will persist until the compression of the nerve is relieved and can severely impact someone’s quality of life.
- Paralysis: If the compression is not relieved, the nerve could eventually suffer severe damage, leading to paralysis of the extremity.
Because of the severity of this syndrome, it is crucial to address the causes so that they can be prevented.
A Review: Causes of Compartment Syndrome
A team of medical professionals conducted a study to find the common causes of compartment syndrome. The study found that the most common cause was due to car accidents. This happens as a result of the blunt force trauma that people endure in a car crash. Some possible sites that they might suffer blunt force trauma include:
- Dashboard: It is easy for people to strike the dashboard with their leg or ankle if they collide with an object in front of them. If this happens, their ankle or calf can swell up, creating compartment syndrome in their leg.
- Window: People can strike their shoulder or arm on the window, mainly in a rollover accident or T-bone accident. This could lead to compartment syndrome in their upper arm, forearm, or wrist.
- Door: In a T-bone accident, a door can compress their leg between the inside of the door and the front of the car. This can lead to serious compression injuries in their leg and cause compartment syndrome.
The Sequelae of Compartment Syndrome Can Be Devastating
If someone has developed compartment syndrome, several complications could develop as a result of this injury. They can lose the sensation in their extremity below the level of the compression. They might suffer serious injuries to blood vessels and not even realize it. Worst of all, severe and prolonged compartment syndrome can lead to paralysis of that extremity. This can cause someone to lose the use of that limb, leading to significant quality of life issues. This will make it difficult for someone to write or walk, making it almost impossible to return to work.
Personal Injury Lawyers in Sacramento
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Personal Injury Attorney. Compartment syndrome can cause serious complications. If you or a family member has suffered devastating injuries as a result of a car accident, call me for free, friendly advice at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400.
I’m honored to be a member of the California chapter of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.
You can read some of our verdicts and settlements cases.
Image Attribution: Wikimedia Commons hosted the original copy of this image, which was printed here under the Creative Commons License, version 3.0
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