Below, the maritime injury attorneys at Kherkher Garcia, LLP explain stress fractures and how they impact maritime workers. We will also provide insight into maritime laws and how you may can pursue compensation after a maritime injury.
What is a Stress Fracture?
A stress fracture is a small crack in a bone that is caused by repetitive stress. It is most common in the weight-bearing bones of the lower leg and foot, but can also occur in other bones, such as the pelvis, spine, and ribs.
Stress fractures are often caused by increasing the amount or intensity of physical activity too quickly. This can happen when you start a new exercise program, increase the intensity of your employment, or play a sport that you are not used to.
Other factors that can increase your risk of stress fractures include:
- Weak Bones: If you have osteoporosis or other bone diseases, you are more likely to develop stress fractures.
- Improper Footwear: Wearing shoes that do not provide adequate support can increase the risk of stress fractures.
- Surface: Walking, running or jumping on hard surfaces can increase the risk of stress fractures.
- Weight: Carrying excess weight puts more stress on your bones, which can increase the risk of stress fractures.
What are the Common Causes of Maritime Stress Fractures?
Stress fractures are a common type of injury that can occur in maritime employment due to the demanding nature of the work and the unique conditions experienced at sea. Here are some potential causes of stress fractures in maritime employment:
Maritime workers often engage in repetitive activities that can place excessive stress on certain parts of the body. Tasks such as lifting heavy objects, handling equipment, or climbing ladders repeatedly can lead to stress fractures over time.
Vibration and Impact
Maritime workers may be exposed to constant vibrations and impacts while operating machinery or working on vessels. These vibrations and shocks can contribute to the development of stress fractures, especially in the lower extremities.
Improper or inadequate footwear can exacerbate the risk of stress fractures. Maritime workers may need to navigate slippery decks or uneven surfaces, and if they are not wearing appropriate footwear with good shock absorption and support, it can increase the strain on their bones.
Poor ergonomics in the workplace, such as poorly designed workstations or inadequate equipment, can contribute to stress fractures. If workers have to maintain awkward or unnatural postures or use equipment that is not properly adjusted to their body mechanics, it can increase the risk of stress fractures.
Fatigue and Overexertion
Maritime work can be physically demanding, and long hours and high workloads can lead to fatigue and overexertion. When workers are fatigued, their muscles become less effective at absorbing shock, which can put extra stress on the bones and increase the likelihood of stress fractures.
The maritime environment can pose additional challenges that contribute to stress fractures. Constant exposure to wet and slippery surfaces, extreme weather conditions, and constant motion of the vessel can increase the risk of falls and injuries that can result in stress fractures.
Insufficient Rest and Recovery
Inadequate rest and recovery time between shifts or during periods of intense work can prevent the body from healing and repairing minor bone damage. Without sufficient time to recover, accumulated stress on the bones can lead to stress fractures.
What are the Symptoms of Stress Fractures?
Fractures are a type of broken bone, but the symptoms may not be immediately, or obviously, apparent. Often, stress fractures do not cause severe swelling or disfigurement of the area. Instead, the common symptoms of a stress fracture may include:
- Pain that starts and gets worse during physical activity.
- Pain that doesn’t get better after stopping activity.
- More noticeable pain when resting.
- Tenderness to even a light touch on or near your affected bone.
What is the Treatment for Stress Fractures?
The treatment for stress fractures typically involves rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). In some cases, you may need to wear a cast or brace. Here is an overview of RICE:
- Rest: The most important treatment for a stress fracture is rest. This means avoiding any activity that causes pain in the affected area.
- Ice: Applying ice to the affected area can help to reduce pain and swelling. You can apply ice for 15-20 minutes at a time, several times a day.
- Compression: Wrapping the affected area with an elastic bandage can help to reduce swelling.
- Elevation: Raising the affected area above your heart can also help to reduce swelling and ease pain.
In addition to RICE, you may also need to wear a cast or brace to protect the affected bone and allow it to heal. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair a stress fracture.
The length of time it takes for a stress fracture to heal depends on the severity of the fracture and the individual’s overall health. Most stress fractures heal within 6-8 weeks. However, some stress fractures may take longer to heal. It is important to allow the bone to heal completely before returning to full activity. Otherwise, you may increase your risk of a more serious fracture.
Potential Complications of Fractures and Broken Bones
If a fracture or broken bone does not heal properly, maritime workers are at risk for potentially serious complications, such as:
- Compartment Syndrome
- Blood Clots
- Organ Damage
- Chronic Pain
- Permanent Disability
Even though a stress fracture may seem like a mild to moderate injury, it is important to get adequate and timely medical treatment to avoid complications.
How Can Maritime Workers Prevent Stress Fractures?
It is important for maritime employers to prioritize worker safety and implement measures to reduce the risk of stress fractures. Maritime employers are responsible for training and supervision, providing a safe working environment, and providing appropriate safety equipment.
In addition to the responsibilities of employers, maritime workers can also take measures to reduce the risk of fractures and other injuries. Here are some tips to help prevent stress fractures:
- Gradually increase the amount or intensity of your physical activity.
- Wear proper footwear that provides adequate support.
- Avoid running or jumping on hard surfaces.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Listen to your body and rest when you are feeling pain.
Regular health screenings and early intervention for any signs of stress fractures are also essential to prevent further complications.
What to Do After a Maritime Stress Fracture
If you suffer a fracture in the maritime industry, it is important to take immediate action to ensure your safety and seek appropriate medical attention. Here are some steps to follow if you experience a fracture:
- Assess the Situation: Determine the severity of the fracture and assess any immediate dangers in your surroundings. If you are in immediate danger or at risk of further injury, prioritize your safety and move to a safe location if possible.
- Notify Your Supervisor: Report the incident to your supervisor or employer as soon as possible. They need to be informed about your injury so that they can provide necessary assistance and initiate the appropriate protocols.
- Seek Medical Attention: Fractures require medical evaluation and treatment. Depending on the severity of the fracture, you may need emergency medical assistance or you may be able to visit the ship’s medical officer or a nearby medical facility. Follow the instructions provided by your employer and seek medical attention promptly.
- Follow Medical Advice: Once you have received medical attention, carefully follow the advice and instructions provided by the healthcare professional. This may include immobilization of the affected area, pain management, and recommendations for further medical care.
- Document the Incident: It is essential to document the incident and your injuries. Take photographs, if possible, and make notes about the circumstances surrounding the accident. This documentation may be necessary for insurance claims or legal purposes in the future.
Remember, it is crucial to prioritize your health and well-being when dealing with a fracture or any other injury. By promptly seeking medical attention and following the necessary protocols, you can ensure proper treatment and support during your recovery process.
Can an Attorney Help After a Maritime Injury?
In addition to the above steps, you may find it helpful to discuss your situation with a maritime injury attorney. An attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options, gather evidence to support your claim, and negotiate with the other party. If necessary, they can also file a lawsuit on your behalf.
Here are some of the specific ways an attorney can help you after a maritime injury:
- Explain Your Legal Rights and Options: Maritime law is complex, and it can be difficult to understand your legal rights and options after an injury such as a stress fracture. An attorney can help you understand the different types of claims that you may be able to file, and they can advise you on the best course of action for your specific situation.
- Gather Evidence: After a maritime injury, it is important to gather evidence to support your claim. This evidence may include medical records, photographs, witness statements, and any other documentation that can help to establish your case. An attorney can help you gather this evidence and ensure that it is properly preserved.
- Negotiation: In many cases, maritime injuries can be resolved through negotiation. An attorney can help you negotiate with the other party to reach a fair settlement. If the other party is unwilling to negotiate, an attorney can file a lawsuit on your behalf.
- Filing a Lawsuit: A lawsuit is a formal legal proceeding that can be used to seek compensation for your injuries. An attorney can help you file a lawsuit and represent you in court.
If you have been injured in a maritime accident, it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help you protect your legal rights and get the compensation you deserve.
Get Help With Your Maritime Injury Case
Injuries like stress fractures may seem relatively simple. However, when an injury occurs while working a maritime job, there are many factors to consider before attempting to obtain benefits or compensation. If you have been injured, you should know that you are not alone. The maritime injury attorneys at Kherkher Garcia can help.
With more than 30 years of experience helping maritime workers obtain compensation for injuries, we know what it takes to build a strong case and get results. Maritime law may be complex, but getting the compensation you deserve doesn’t have to be.
Find out more with a free consultation with our maritime injury attorneys. All you have to do is call us at 713-333-1030, or complete our online form.
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