When people imagine workplace injuries that could end their careers, broken bones are likely not even on the list. After all, most people understand that broken bones typically only need to be set by a medical professional. The patient will then need adequate rest and physical therapy.

Even the most complicated spiral fractures that require surgery can usually heal almost completely. After recovery, it is possible to regain almost all the range of motion and strength that you lose while your injured bone is casted.

However, just because most people experience a total recovery doesn’t mean that broken bones aren’t quite serious. In fact, broken bones can lead to temporary or permanent disabilities, particularly for those who work in physically demanding careers.

A broken bone may mean missing months of work

The amount of work that you miss from a broken bone will depend on the bone that you broke, the complexity of the fracture, the nature of your job and your overall physical health. Smaller bones may knit in as little as a few weeks in a healthy adult. Larger bones can take longer. Similarly, broken bones take longer to heal in individuals who already have compromised health.

The end result may be missing weeks or even months of work. Workers who have physically demanding jobs may not be able to return to work until after the healing process is complete. Thankfully, workers’ compensation will offer temporary disability benefits for those who must miss work while recovering from broken bones caused by on-the-job accidents. Broken arms and legs often create difficulty for those who work in physical careers.

In some rare cases, a broken bone can result in more serious medical issues that produce permanent disability. These injuries also qualify employees for workers’ compensation coverage, provided that they obtain the necessary documentation and file timely claims.

Broken bones and other traumas can cause permanent medical conditions

Usually, when a broken bone heals, the pain associated with that injury decreases over time. In rare cases, however, the injury may become worse as the body heals. If you experience worsening pain while recovering from a broken bone, you should seek immediate medical evaluation.

That may be a sign of a progressive condition known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), formerly known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD). CRPS is a neuro-inflammatory disorder that can worsen over time. It produces pain without immediate physical cause that can impact every aspect a sufferer’s life. It can also reduce the strength and range of motion in the affected limb or extremity.

People who develop CRPS after a fracture may not ever be able to return to work. Knowing your rights as an injured worker and securing an accurate diagnosis are both key to a positive outcome when a broken bone develops into something more serious and permanent.