Knee injuries can occur at work in many different ways. A twist one way or a pull in another direction can cause the knee to buckle or pop. An auto accident or a construction accident can cause a severe knee injury. A worker who is pinned between objects or who places a lot of repetitive stress on the knee joint can suffer a knee injury. Some knee injuries require surgery. Many employees who have knee injuries require long-term rehabilitative care or even joint replacement.
At Joe Miller Law Ltd., we work with your physicians to fully understand the type of knee injury you have, the severity of the injury, the medical care you’ll need, and how your knee injury affects your ability to do your current job or any job. We fight to obtain all the medical and lost wage benefits North Carolina and Virginia law permits.
What are the different types of knee injuries?
According to the Mayo Clinic, knee injuries can affect the bones, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, or bursae. Some of the different types of knee injuries a worker can suffer include:
- Anterior cruciate ligament injury (ACL). The ACL is one of four ligaments that connect the thighbone and the shinbone. Any worker who quickly changes direction may suffer an ACL injury.
- Broken bones. The kneecap (patella) can fracture during a car accident, truck accident, or a fall. Workers who have osteoporosis may also suffer a fractured knee.
- Meniscus tear. “The meniscus is the tough, rubbery cartilage that acts as a shock absorber between your shinbone and thighbone.” A tear can occur if a worker twists suddenly while also bearing weight on the knee.
- Bursitis of the knee. Knee injuries may cause “inflammation in the bursae, the small sacs of fluid that cushion the outside of your knee joint so that tendons and ligaments glide smoothly over the joint.”
- Patellar tendinitis. This injury which causes inflammation and irritation of one or more tendons (tendons are tissue that attach muscles to bones) can occur if there is an injury to the patella tendon. Athletic activities may cause this type of knee injury.
- Chondromalacia. This is a form of wear and tear which is essentially the softening and breakdown of the tissue (cartilage) on the underside of the kneecap (patella). It can occur in one or more compartments of the knee. Although it tends to occur over time, and would be considered a pre-existing condition, a work accident or trauma from a motor vehicle collision can severely aggravate what was previously an asymptomatic condition. In its most severe stages, doctors will often refer to this is as “bone on bone,” i.e. the cartilage has completely worn away.
Some knee injuries are due to mechanical problems such as:
- A loose body. An injury or just wear and tear of bone or cartilage can cause some of the bone or cartilage to break off and float in the knee joint.
- Iliotibial band syndrome. “This occurs when the tough band of tissue that extends from the outside of your hip to the outside of your knee (iliotibial band) becomes so tight that it rubs against the outer portion of your thighbone.”
- Dislocated kneecap. This knee injury happens when the bone that covers a worker’s patella slips out of place.
- Hip or foot pain. These injuries can affect the way a worker walks – placing additional stress on the knee.
- Arthritis. There are many different types of arthritis. Some that can affect the knee include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, pseudogout, and septic arthritis. Although these would be considered pre-existing conditions in an accident scenario, if they were clearly aggravated and made symptomatic by an accident, many of these conditions might still be compensable.
Other knee injuries include collateral ligament injuries, and Posterior cruciate ligament injuries.
What are they signs and symptoms of knee pain?
Workers should consider seeking medical help if they experience stiffness, swelling, redness, warmth on touch, crunching or popping noises, (crepitus) knee weakness, an inability to fully straighten the knee, not being able to bear weight on the knee, or some clear structural damage to the knee.
How is a knee injured diagnosed?
In addition to an oral examination, the doctors will normally examine your range of knee motion, your ability to pull or push the knee joint, where your pain is located, whether your knee is tender, and whether there’s any visible bruising.
Common diagnostic tests include X-rays that look for bone fractures and degenerative disc disease, CT scans to diagnose bone problems and even gout, ultrasound to examine the soft tissue within and around the knee, and MRIs to examine the “soft tissues such as ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and muscles.” Your doctor may also order blood tests.
What are the treatments for knee injuries?
The treatments employees need for knee injuries vary depending on the type of injury and the severity of the injury. Employees who are covered by workers’ compensation have the right to demand their employer pay for all reasonable and necessary for as long as medical care will improve or stabilize the worker’s health.
Common treatments for knee injuries include:
- Medications. These generally include medications for pain relief and underlying causes of the knee pain.
- Physical therapy. The aim of this type of therapy is to strengthen the muscles around the knee. Physical therapy often includes exercises to strengthen the area around the knee, improve flexibility, and improve balance. Other therapies may include braces, walking canes, ice or heat, and arch supports.
- Injections. A few possible injections include:
- Corticosteroids. “Injections of a corticosteroid drug into your knee joint may help reduce the symptoms of an arthritis flare and provide pain relief that may last a few months.” These injections aren’t always effective, but many patients do obtain temporary relief.
- Hyaluronic acid. Also known as viscosupplementation, “a thick fluid, similar to the fluid that naturally lubricates joints, hyaluronic acid can be injected into your knee to improve mobility and ease pain. Although study results have been mixed about the effectiveness of this treatment, relief from one or a series of shots may last as long as six months.” These injections usually come in a series of 3-5 injections, which series cannot be repeated for six months. Some of the common brands of these injections are Orthovisc and Synvisc.
- Platelet-rich plasma (PRP). “PRP contains a concentration of many different growth factors that appear to reduce inflammation and promote healing.”
- Surgery. Surgery for knee injuries may include:
- Arthroscopic surgery. This surgery uses a fiber-optic camera and long, narrow tools that are inserted around the kneed to remove loose bodies. remove or repair damaged cartilage (especially if it is causing your knee to lock), and reconstruct torn ligaments.
- Partial knee replacement surgery. Typically, this is done when the cartilage is so broken down, that at least a portion of the knee joint is essentially unable to function. It is usually a last resort after other forms of more conservative treatment such as steroid or viscosupplementation injections are no longer effective in relieving symptoms. In a partial replacement, the surgeon replaces only a portion of the damaged knee with parts made of titanium and plastic. This is done when it is felt that at least some portions or compartments of the knee still have sufficiently healthy cartilage and can be left alone. Only those compartments that are damaged beyond repair are replaced.
- Total knee replacement or Knee Arthroplasty. This is typically performed when the entirety of the knee joint is no longer able to function due to a complete or nearly complete loss of the cartilage. As with the partial replacement, a total replacement is a last resort when all other conservative measures have failed. “In this procedure, your surgeon cuts away damaged bone and cartilage from your thighbone, shinbone and kneecap, and replaces it with an artificial joint made of metal alloys such as titanium, high-grade plastics, and polymers.”
- Osteotomy. “This procedure involves removing bone from the thighbone or shinbone to better align the knee and relieve arthritis pain.”
Speak with an experienced North Carolina and Virginia Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Now
At Joe Miller Law Ltd., our North Carolina and Virginia workers’ compensation lawyer fights for employees who have any type of injury that prevents them from working including knee injuries. He’s helped thousands of workers obtain just recoveries. To discuss your rights to medical and wage benefits if you have any type of knee injury, call attorney Joe Miller, Esq., at 888-667-8295 or fill out my online contact form to schedule a free consultation.
We also have a remote service tool, at New Electronic Case Review, if you want to speak to us from the comfort and security of your home.