Personal injury lawyers should be aware of the slow healing response of cartilage in a joint in order to fully appreciate the long term future consequences of a victim’s traumatic injury to one of the joints. To understand this problem a review of anatomy is in order.
At the area of the joint in the knee, hip or elbow where the two bones would otherwise meet is articular cartilage on either end of the bone which is separated by the synovial cavity and inside the synovial cavity is synovial fluid. Between the synovial fluid and the cartilage, the joint has a smooth gliding surface. This lubrication also absorbs weight without injury. This unique type of tissue has neither nerve nor blood supply. This is known as avascular and thus the healing potential of avascular tissue is important in a medical-legal cases. Injury to the articular cartilage is fortunately not easy or common as the cartilage and underlying bone are adept at absorbing and distributing blows and forces from normal activity.
Injury to the surrounding connective tissues of the joint (ligaments, menisci, etc.) and dislocations and intra-articular fractures can lead to post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA). As PTOA advances cartilage that is normally capable of sustaining repetitive loading begins to break down. As well, subchondral bone becomes thickened and denser, bone marrow lesions and cysts may also form as well as osteophytes. Finally, the synovial fluid and joint capsule become altered. Treatment for the development of PTOA includes weight loss for people who are obese as well as new surgical treatments by a Lethbridge Orthopedic Surgeon, used by Handel Law Firm for medical-legal consulting, including joint cartilage replacement and drilling into the subchondral bone to initiate a fracture repair response. The gold standard is still joint replacement with prosthetic components.
Thus, the personal injury lawyer must be cognizant of issues of deterioration of injured joints especially with PTOA in presenting the medical-legal case both at mediation or trial. What may seem like a small injury to cartilage on an MRI may over a significant number of years develop into a major functional limitation. It is therefore imperative that consideration of these long term consequences be presented in the case as it is often the long term consequences which are much more significant than the pre-settlement or pre-trial record of pain and disability. To not understand and present and obtain compensation for the future long term consequences after the settlement or trial will result in a fundamental under compensation to the innocent victim in a personal injury case.
Handel Law Firm is Personal Injury & Fatal Accident Law Firm in Alberta with offices in Calgary, Edmonton, and Red Deer. Contact our lawyers today for your personal injury and fatal accident cases in Alberta.