Knee Injuries at Work
Knee injuries are common in the workplace. In fact, about 10 percent of workplace injuries involve problems with the knee.
These types of injuries can make it difficult ─ or impossible ─ to do your job. With medical bills piling up, it can be stressful to think about how long you might be out of work. Fortunately, workers’ compensation benefits are designed to protect workers from financial ruin after on-the-job injuries. Unfortunately, they are not always easy to obtain.
For more than a decade, the skilled legal team at the Kenton Koszdin Law Office has been focused on helping injured and disabled workers fight for the benefits they deserve. We are here to talk you through the process, handle all your paperwork, and battle through an appeal if your claim has been denied. Call or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation.
Common Types of Knee Injuries
As the largest joint in the human body, the knee is susceptible to an array of injuries and conditions. The common types of knee injuries that occur on the job are:
- Fractures: The most often broken bone in and around the knee is the kneecap, or patella. Falls are common sources of the high-impact trauma that can break the kneecap. A patella compromised by degenerative conditions such as osteoporosis can break with an awkward step or twist or from a fairly modest impact.
- Anterior cruciate ligament injuries: The ACL runs down the front of the knee and serves as a joint stabilizer. ACL sprains are first-, second-, or third-degree. If it’s severe, you’re looking at surgery.
- Dislocation: This is where one or more of the bones slip out of place. It can be a result of a structural problem or trauma.
- Meniscal tears: If the diagnosis is torn cartilage, the likelihood is that the problem is a meniscal cartilage tear. Menisci are the cartilage between the thighbone and shinbone. A tear can be an abrupt (acute) injury, an overuse injury, or a byproduct of aging. The latter is called a degenerative tear. If the injury is acute, a pop often can be heard and definitely felt.
- Bursitis: Bursae are fluid-filled sacs that absorb shocks and reduce friction in the joint. Inflammation can result from overuse or repeated pressure. That’s bursitis. Home remedies may work here, but antibiotics might be needed. Sometimes a needle is used to aspirate (withdraw) fluid that can build up.
- Tendinitis: In the knee, this is called patellar tendinitis. It is an inflammation affecting the tendon that ties the kneecap and shinbone. Tendinitis is a sign of above-average use of and stress on the joint.
- Tendon tears: Tendons are soft tissue connecting muscle to bone. The patellar tendon is the common victim here. This can be a stress injury or a result of a fall or blow.
- Collateral ligament injuries: These ligaments link the thighbone and shinbone. This typically is a contact injury.
- Iliotibial band syndrome: Damage to this connective tissue on the exterior of the knee typically is a friction injury from contact with the bone.
- Posterior cruciate ligament injuries: This ligament at the back of the knee connects thighbone to shinbone. It takes a lot of force to damage the PCL; it is susceptible when the knee is bent. These are high-impact injuries from falls or blows.
Some knee injuries respond to home remedies such as ice packs or heating pads and over-the-counter painkillers. Knowing the symptoms of conditions that warrant more than an aspirin can save you time and unnecessary suffering.
Common Symptoms of Knee Injuries
Mother Nature can be subtle or explosively brash when signaling physical problems. Common symptoms and signs of a potentially serious knee injury include:
- Swelling and stiffness
- Redness and warmth to the touch
- Weakness or instability
- Popping or crunching noises
- Inability to fully straighten the knee
- Inability to bear weight
- Visible deformity in the leg or knee
Overuse and overexertion can cause serious knee problems. Especially if your work involves a repeated awkward motion or applying too much stress continually, you may suffer a knee injury. The earlier you recognize that an overuse or overexertion knee injury is occurring, the better the outcome can be when treatment is initiated.
Common Treatments for Knee Injuries
Minor knee pain/injuries may respond adequately to the self-care approach. Often, though, workplace injuries to the knee are going to require professional intervention. The options and approaches are dictated by severity and are tailored to and affected by overall physical condition. Some common treatment options include:
- Medications: These run the gamut from painkillers and anti-inflammatories to medications needed for treatment of any underlying conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout.
- Therapy: Build the muscles the knee relies on, and it becomes more stable. Training also involves learning how to avoid the types of movement that can be damaging. Another approach is an exercise regimen that improves balance.
- Arch supports and/or braces: These can help reduce and redirect pressure on the knee.
- Injections: This pharmaceutical approach comes in many forms:
- Corticosteroids are injected into the joint to ease arthritis symptoms and pain.
- Hyaluronic acid is injected to lubricate joints and thereby ease pain.
- Platelet-rich plasma can reduce inflammation and promote healing.
- Surgery: The operating room might be the eventual solution. Options vary:
- Arthroscopic surgery is a less invasive approach that involves fiber-optic cameras and special tools that are introduced through one or more small openings. This often is used to repair soft-tissue damage and remove debris that injuries and bone-on-tissue/bone friction can produce.
- Partial knee replacement surgery. Called unicompartmental arthroplasty, this procedure uses metal and plastic to reconstruct the knee. Recuperation is less difficult and lengthy than with a total knee replacement.
- Total knee replacement. Simply put, a surgeon reconstructs the entire knee.
Workplace knee injuries can occur in a sudden accident or over weeks, months, or years. When the results are felt, they aren’t limited to physical pain. If an injury has curtailed or ended your ability to return to the workplace, you need more than a doctor. In California, you need the help of an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.
Talk to a Knowledgeable Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today
In Los Angeles and throughout Southern California, the skilled legal team at the Kenton Koszdin Law Office has been helping injured and disabled workers for more than 10 years. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation, including a free in-home consultation if necessary.