Knee injuries happen at work for many different reasons. Workers may be injured in a car accident, they may be hurt if something falls on their leg, they slip and fall, or they may be hurt through for many different reasons such as twisting, pulling, or moving their leg in the wrong direction at the wrong time. Knee injuries may be due to chronic issues or they may be due to an acute injury.
The knees have four primary components: bones, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons. The femur, called the thighbone, is located at the top of the knee joint. The shinbone, the tibia, is at the bottom of the knee joint. The patella, kneecap, is the part of the anatomy that covers the point between the femur and tibia meeting point. Cartledge is the tissue that helps cushion the knee joint bones. Ligaments protect the bones from impact.
According to Medical News Today, the ligaments act like ropes holding the bones together and stabilizing the knee joint. The “tendons connect the muscles that support the knee joint to bones in the upper and lower leg.”
Some of the many types of knee injuries that workers need treatment for include the following.
The bone in the knee joint that is most commonly broken is the patella. Other bones in the joint may break too. Breaks are usually due to some type of forceful trauma. Surgery may be required to treat the fracture.
Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries
These injuries are fairly common for athletes. They can also make life very difficult for employees. The ACL provides stability for the knee joint. Injuries often require surgery which can take months or even up to a year to properly heal and that’s only with extensive physical therapy. A grade one ACL sprain is a mild injury. A grade three ACL is a complete tear.
A knee dislocation occurs when the knee bones are not properly aligned. For example, a bone slips out of place. Falls in construction accidents and car accidents are common causes of knee dislocations.
This refers to torn cartilage in the knee. Cartilage helps provide a cushion between the bones such as the thighbone and the shinbone. Usually, when there is a sudden meniscus tear, the worker will hear or feel a pop followed by pain, tightness, and swelling.
The bursae are “small fluid-filled sacs that cushion the knee joints and allow the tendons and ligaments to slide easily over the joint.” When the sacs swell and become inflamed, that condition is known as bursitis.
In general, bursitis can be treated with self-help-care. In some cases, an antibiotic is required. In some cases, a procedure to withdraw the excess fluid, called an aspiration, is required.
Tendonitis (inflammation) is called patellar tendonitis when it affects the knee. The knee-tendon connects the shinbone to the kneecap. A properly functioning patellar tendon allows the worker to perform physical activities including running and jumping. For that reason, tendonitis is also called jumper’s knee. While it affects athletes, it can also affect any active person including employees.
Tears of the tendon
Tears or overstretching of the tendon may occur when a worker falls or is struck by an object in or around the knee.
Collateral ligament injuries
Collateral ligaments connect the shinbone to the thighbone. While they are also a common athletic injury, collateral ligament injuries can occur at work.
Posterior cruciate ligament injuries
“The posterior cruciate ligament is located at the back of the knee. It is one of the many ligaments that connect the thighbone to the shinbone. This ligament keeps the shinbone from moving too far backward.” This type of injury occurs when there is a forceful impact while the knee is bent.
Knee injury treatments
Medical News Today recommends seeking medical care for any knee injury as soon as possible. While you’re waiting -the RICE method of rest, ice, gentle compression, and elevation is suggested. You should especially seek medical care if:
- You can’t move your knee
- You have a limp
- You hear a popping noise when your knee gives out
- You have terrible pain in the knee
Some of the many types of treatments for knee injuries that workers need, according to Orthoinfo, include the following.
- Nonsurgical treatments. Nonsurgical treatments vary depending on the severity of the injury and your general health condition. Sample treatments include:
- Physical therapy. This treatment generally consists of exercises to help strengthen the knee and the muscles around the knee. You may need to immobilize your knee with a brace or a cast. You may also need to learn how to use crutches so you don’t put weight on the injured knee.
- Drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications or in some cases, narcotic medications may provide some relief.
- Surgical treatment for knee injuries. Many knee injuries require surgeries. Some are done arthroscopically, meaning the surgeon typically makes three small holes in the knee through which instruments, including a camera, are inserted to conduct the surgery. This is advantageous as it is minimally invasive compared to open knee surgery.
- Should more conservative treatments and surgeries fail, ultimately what may be required is a partial or total knee replacement. Knee replacements are essentially artificial joints comprised of titanium and plastic parts that are surgically inserted to take the place of the knee portions being replaced. Many of our clients report good pain relief as well as restored function after recovery from such surgeries. The disadvantage is that it is irreversible. Once your natural knee parts are cut out and removed, there is no putting them back.
The time to recover from a knee injury can range from a few weeks to a few months depending on the severity of the injuries. Some workers never suffer a permanent injury because they never regain the full use of their knee.
North Carolina and Virginia workers’ compensation lawyer Joe Miller has been fighting for injured workers for 32 years. He works with your physicians to fully document and verify your medical condition and the types of treatment you need. He’s helped thousands of employees obtain full recoveries including payment of their medical expenses includes visits with physical therapists and other therapists. He fights to get you all the lost income benefits the law allows. To discuss your knee injury workers’ compensation case with a seasoned workers’ compensation lawyer, call lawyer Joe Miller, Esq., at 888–667-8295 or complete my online contact form to schedule an appointment.
Employees in North Carolina and Virginia can also now fill out our New Electronic Case Review. The link is a new way of communicating with clients that we’re offering – to allow workers to contact us remotely during the pandemic.