How many times must an injured worker in PA hear something like, “Why are you still out of work – it was just a bruise?” What is not widely understood is that a bruise, or a contusion, can, indeed, be a serious injury with very severe consequences. Recently, we saw an example of this in the sports world.
Tyler Lockett, a wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL, suffered a bruised lower leg in a game on November 11, 2019. According to an article in the Washington Post, Mr. Lockett was hospitalized overnight as a result of the injury. In addition to causing pain and immobility, a bruise or contusion can also cause swelling. This swelling, when in a small area, such as a lower leg, can instigate “compartment syndrome.” According to the article, “Compartment syndrome is a rare but potentially dangerous condition in which pressure builds to extreme levels in a limb after it undergoes some sort of trauma, either from a big hit or simple exercise.”
On the website for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), it is reiterated that compartment syndrome can result from badly bruising a muscle, which we do often see in PA workers’ compensation cases. When this compartment syndrome is the result of acute trauma, it is a medical emergency. Immediate treatment is necessary to avoid permanent damage to muscle, nerve and tissue. There is no non-surgical treatment for compartment syndrome. Specifically, the treatment involved would be: