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Dislocation Injury at Work & Recovering Workers’€™ Comp

Whether it’s the result of a direct blow or a fall, an accident at work can lead to a dislocation injury. The part of the body dislocated – arm, finger, etc. – and severity of the damage will determine the type of treatment and length of recovery. It may also entitle injured employees in New York to workers’ compensation benefits. 

What is a dislocation?

A dislocation occurs when the bones are displaced from the joint. It can sometimes be mistaken for a fracture.

Joints where bones might dislocate include the:

  • fingers;
  • toes;
  • knees;
  • hips;
  • arm (shoulder, elbow); and
  • jaw.

What are the signs of a dislocation?

The most common sign of a dislocation injury is sudden, intense pain. It may be exacerbated when attempting to move the part of the body that is dislocated.

Other signs of a dislocation include:

  • swelling;
  • bruising;
  • bone noticeably out of place;
  • tingling/numbness at the joint; and
  • limited movement (or unable to move at all).

How is a dislocation treated?

This type of injury requires immediate medical attention. To prevent the joint from becoming permanently damaged, early treatment is important. However, there may be long-term or permanent damage if there’s injury to the blood vessels and/or nerves.

Many times a physician can manually manipulate the bones to reposition them back into place. The worker might be under local anesthesia (or in some cases general anesthesia) while the doctor puts the bone back into place.

Surgery is sometimes required when doctors cannot move the bones back into the correct position manually or in cases of recurring dislocation. If a ligament, muscle or tendon has been torn or stretched, surgery may help to repair the problem. 

Whether a person undergoes a noninvasive or surgical procedure, other types of treatment could include:

  • rest;
  • pain medication;
  • splint/sling; and
  • restrictions on activities.

 

When a major joint has been dislocated, rehabilitation will typically follow. This helps restore strength and improve range of motion. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this type of injury is prone to occur again.

It can take a few weeks for the dislocated joint to function and move properly again. But for certain types of dislocations (such as to the hip), it can take months. Not allowing adequate time for healing can cause a re-injury.

Of course, if surgery is necessary the recovery period could be longer. If the injured employee has to miss work, under New York law he may recover benefits from workers’ compensation.

Is workers’ compensation available for a dislocation?

As long as the dislocation occurred during the scope of employment, workers’ compensation benefits should be available. The medical costs will be covered as well as a portion of the employee’s wages. Cash benefits from workers’ compensation depend on the employee’s wages and the degree of disability.

At some point during the recovery, the employee might return to work with certain restrictions to avoid aggravating the injury or reinjuring the joint. If there is a dispute concerning when this should happen, if an employer is not meeting the restrictions, or the employer or insurer is not paying workers’ comp benefits, it could necessitate seeking legal counsel.

Call the Disability Guys at Markhoff & Mittman, P.C. to discuss your right to benefits and the amount of benefits to which you’re entitled: (866) 205-2415.

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