A wrist injury can limit your productivity, make your daily routines uncomfortable, and even put you out of work. If you’ve experienced a wrist injury at your Georgia Workplace, you may need a procedure such as an Open Reduction Internal Fixation (ORIF) to help you recover and return to work at full capacity. Understanding the basics of this procedure, potential risks, and the role that it plays in your overall recovery is essential for making a full return to your normal life.
Workplace injuries can happen for a number of reasons, but making the connection between your wrist injury and your workplace is the most important part of building a case to get the benefits that you deserve. To get full coverage for your injuries, working with your Georgia employer and their insurance provider is a big part of the process.
Unfortunately, it can be very challenging and frustrating navigating the workers’ compensation landscape. However, with the help of one of our expert injury attorneys at Gearhart Law, you can get the best legal representation possible to build a strong case and get the compensation that you need.
What is Open Reduction Internal Fixation?
Open Reduction Internal Fixation (ORIF) is a procedure used to restore the bone structure of the wrist following an injury. During this procedure, any broken bones are realigned in their natural position and then held together with screws, plates, or wires. This procedure is designed to ensure that when the wound heals, the bones of your wrist will heal with normal alignment.
The length of an ORIF procedure can vary, but typically takes 1-2 hours in an outpatient facility. You will likely be given a general anesthesia to ensure that you do not feel any pain during the surgery while the hardware is being placed. After the surgery, your wrist will be placed in a splint or cast for protection and support while it heals, which will typically be removed after several weeks.
While recovery time can vary from person to person, the average full recovery from a wrist ORIF is around 4-6 months. During this period of time, you will likely need to participate in rehabilitation to ensure proper recovery from the surgery. The amount and type of physical activity that you are allowed to do during this time will be limited and specific to a post-operative protocol that is designed by your orthopedic surgeon. For this reason, it is important to follow your doctor’s directions carefully during the recovery process and express any concerns that may come up along the way.
What is Open Reduction Internal Fixation Used For?
A wrist ORIF is used to treat various wrist injuries, but mostly fractures of the radius and ulna, which are the two long bones of the forearm. Wrist fractures are commonly caused by a specific injury known as a FOOSH (Fall On Outstretched Hand), a bad fall onto the arm, or any impact to the wrist that is strong enough to break the bones.
Although many fractures heal spontaneously or without surgery, serious fractures will not heal properly unless they are held in place during the healing process. The reason screws and rods are used in this procedure is because they provide stability and support that prevent the bone segments from falling out of alignment. By providing additional physical structure for the broken bones, screws and rods can reduce the amount of healing time required for a fracture to fully recover while also ensuring proper healing. This is especially important, as this technique prevents further damage to the wrist or improper alignment of the bones that can lead to further injury, including reducing the risk of dislocation or displacement during healing.
In some cases, the screws and rods used in the ORIF procedure may need to be removed after healing is complete. This depends on a variety of factors, such as the size of the screw, type of implant used, how long it has been in place, and other considerations. Generally speaking, if a screw or rod is needed for a long-term repair, it is usually left in place. However, if a screw or rod is used to temporarily hold the bone together during healing, then it will typically be removed at a later date. Your surgeon will discuss this with you and explain any risks associated with removing the hardware.
Is Open Reduction Internal Fixation Safe?
Generally, a wrist ORIF is a low-risk procedure for treating a serious wrist fracture. However, as with any invasive medical procedure there are still potential complications that may occur during or after surgery. Typical risks may include surgical infection, nerve damage, blood clotting problems, and improper bone healing. However, these risks can be minimized by following your doctor’s instructions for post-operative care, as well as any rehab activities that are prescribed.
Typical side effects after a wrist ORIF surgery include swelling, stiffness, bruising, and soreness around the surgery site. These side effects are normal and should improve over time with rest and proper activity during your initial recovery. Additionally, you may feel numbness or tingling around the incision site due to nerve irritation that was caused during the surgery, which should also subside with normal healing.
It’s important to note that the success of this procedure highly depends on the skill and experience of your orthopedic surgeon. For this reason, you want to choose an experienced orthopedic surgeon who has extensive experience with wrist ORIF surgery. By doing so, you can ensure the best chance of a successful outcome and reduce any risks associated with the procedure.
Will I Need Other Treatments?
In most cases after a wrist ORIF surgery, it is important to participate in physical therapy or occupational therapy in order to restore movement and strength to the wrist. Your doctor may prescribe a combination of both physical and occupational therapy that can help improve range of motion, coordination, and activity tolerance to help you return to work safely.
In addition to the rehab activities prescribed by your doctor, you may need additional treatments to help optimize the healing process. These can include anything from steroid injections to reduce inflammation, prescription medications to minimize pain, and bracing or splinting of the wrist for added support during the initial recovery period. Depending on the nature of your injury and the success of your procedure, your doctor may recommend behavioral therapy to help you process your injury and make a full psychological recovery.
The specific treatments that you need will also depend on your health history, lifestyle, and the work you need to return to after your recovery. For example, if you have a condition such as osteoporosis that slows bone healing, you may require more recovery time compared to others. Likewise, if you need to return to a physically demanding job that will place lots of stress on your wrist, you will need to engage in more rehab activities to ensure that your body can handle the full return to work.
In order to get your injury treatments covered and make a full return to work, you need expert legal representation to help you along the way.
Contact an Atlanta Injury Attorney
If you’re dealing with a work injury and need legal advice, contact the best workers’ compensation attorney in Georgia. Beth Gearhart listens to her clients and cares about their needs. Beth is available every day to discuss your case and review all of your options. She is dedicated to positive outcomes and only gets paid if you receive a settlement. You do not need to pay anything up front to discuss your case and explore your options.