Sometimes you wish you ’d just broke the damn thing.
When it comes to healing time or the prognosis for a complete recovery, conventional wisdom holds that it may be better to have a broken bone rather than a sprain, torn ligament, or—in my case—a "bruised" bone.
I’m not sure if that’s true, but since falling off my firetruck almost two weeks ago, I followed up with an orthopedic surgeon for another round of x-rays. The diagnosis: A sub-periosteal hematoma (or bruise) of the olecranon, that large bony prominence that projects behind the elbow. (See #4 below.)
My EMT anatomy class was 17 years ago, and the subject rarely comes up in CE review, so I had forgotten you could actually “bruise” a bone. Most people think of bones as being hard and not particularly vascular, but in fact, this rigid tissue is well supplied by various arteries (receiving 10-20% of all cardiac output) and is protected by thick, fibrous membrane called the periosteum.
Direct force trauma against the bone—the kind of impact one might receive when, oh, say, falling off a fire truck—can result in a hematoma, or collection of blood, underneath this protective layer. And unfortunately this sort of injury can be quite painful and take weeks, months, or even a year to heal completely.
So I got THAT going for me.
Maybe it would have been better to just break the damn thing—you know, set it and forget it. But no.
My elbow is still noticeably swollen, and if I bump it against anything—the arm of a chair, for example—the jolt of pain can light me up. So in addition to icing and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), I’ll be starting physical therapy this week to beginning rehabbing this thing.
Of course, it could ALWAYS be worse: My buddy blew out his entire knee recently. I’m sure he was doing to something glorious at the time, like saving babies from a burning building. Certainly not something as prosaic as tumbling off the fire apparatus.
But for now, I remain “temporarily totally disabled.”