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A knee or leg injury can be devastating, limiting your mobility and preventing you from completing routine or daily tasks. These types of injuries can be incredibly frustrating when they occur on the job and inhibit you from doing your work responsibilities. You have to think through paying for medical expenses, time missed at work, rehab and physical therapy, and more.
The Law Offices of Nathaniel F. Hansford, LLC is here to guide you through this challenging time. Our Atlanta knee injury attorneys/lawyers have a firm grasp on the laws surrounding this cases, backed by 45+ years of collective legal experience. We know how the other side is thinking as former insurance and employer defense attorneys—and we know how to use this to your benefit.
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What are the Different Types of Knee Injuries?
Knee injuries can be caused by numerous regular work activities, whether you carry heavy loads around a warehouse or were carrying a new monitor to your desk. You may suffer a sudden tear in a ligament due to twisting the wrong way or after a sudden fall. Even serious work-related vehicle accidents can result in damaging knee injuries.
Common types of knee injuries include:
- Tibia fractures: The tibia is the larger lower leg bone below the knee. If a break in the tibia occurs near the knee, then the fracture can extend into the knee joint or patella, causing extreme pain and healing complications. Knee-related tibia fractures can also cause damage to the surrounding ligaments, tendons, muscles, and other soft tissues in the knee joint.
- Fibula fractures: The fibula is the smaller of the two lower leg bones. For some people, its smaller size makes it more fragile and prone to breaking. Like a tibia fracture, a fibula fracture can affect the knee joint directly above it by tearing soft tissues there. It might take up to three months to fully heal from this injury.
- Posterior cruciate ligament (PLC) tears: Also called a PCL tear, a posterior cruciate ligament tear occurs when this ligament is heavily impacted, such as by falling and landing on the knee. There are two ligaments in the knee joint: posterior and anterior. Because the posterior cruciate ligament is behind the anterior cruciate ligament, this injury is somewhat rare. But it is also more difficult to correct if it does happen.
- Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears: Also called an ACL tear, an anterior cruciate ligament tear happens when the front ligament of the knee joint is damaged. It is more common than its counterpart, the PLC tear. ACL tears can be mild to severe and cause lasting debilitation if the patient is not provided ample time to rest by using the affected knee and leg as little as possible.
- Medial collateral ligament (MCL) tears: Located on the inner side of the knee, the medial collateral ligament helps connect the upper leg to the lower leg through the knee. An MCL tear can cause complete debilitation of the affected leg until it heals. Surgery may be required in severe cases.
- Meniscus tears: The meniscus is a rubbery, C-shaped disk that acts as a “shock absorber” between the thigh bone and shin bone. This injury usually occurs when the upper leg is quickly or forcefully twisted while the foot is planted and the knee is bent, resulting in a tear in the meniscus. Incorrect lifting techniques are common causes of meniscus tears in the workplace.
- Patellar tendon tears: The patellar tendon is attached to the kneecap and allows the straightening of the knee joint. Minor damage to the patellar tendon will make it painful to straighten the knee, which could worsen the tear. Severe damage will make it impossible to straighten the knee at all, and urgent medical attention should be provided. Typically, treatments will include rest, physical therapy, and medical braces to avoid surgery except in extreme cases.
- Knee dislocations: The patella atop the knee can be forcefully shifted or moved out of place in an accident. When a dislocation occurs, it will be painful and likely prevent the patient from walking. Workers who suffer a knee dislocation might require a week or more off work to allow the patella to naturally reseat itself. However, medical care should be provided the same day as an accident to ensure that no other treatment is necessary.
An injured worker may require long immobilization periods to allow the injury to heal, such as wearing a cast or brace, physical therapy, medications, surgical intervention, steroid injections, or even total knee replacement in extreme cases.
These can be very costly injuries. That is why it is important that you turn to a practiced knee injury attorney in Atlanta who understands how to develop and gather the evidence and information necessary to secure the best possible settlement on your behalf.
What Should I Do If I Injured My Knee?
Hurting your knee is always painful and problematic. But the situation will be even more stressful if you hurt it in the middle of work. To avoid exacerbating the injury and potentially lengthening your recovery time, it is crucial to follow a few basic first-aid steps.
Most medical professionals agree that the RICE care method helps knee injuries:
- Rest: Take weight off the injured knee as much as you can and try to keep it from moving too much. You will likely find that it will hurt more bent or unbent. Trust your body and keep your knee in the position that hurts the least until a medical professional evaluates it, which might require x-rays.
- Ice: A coworker should immediately fetch a bag of ice or a cold pack from your work’s breakroom or first-aid kit. Applying ice to the injury will help keep swelling to a minimum, which can relieve pain and slow down the spread of additional complications caused by inflamed nerves, tendons, and muscles.
- Compression: For most knee injuries, applying pressure with a compression bandage or a soft ice pack will also help reduce inflammation. You will need to once again pay attention to your body’s pain triggers, though. Compression applied incorrectly can worsen severe knee injuries like those that involve a broken bone or slipped patella. If applying pressure hurts, then don’t do it and wait for a medical professional.
- Elevation: The last step of RICE is to elevate your injured knee above the rest of your body. This position is often accomplished by lying down on the ground and carefully propping the injured leg up on a chair or pillow. Elevating the injury slows down blood flow and inflammation, which, as you might have noticed, is a common goal of first-aid.
You might be tempted to take painkiller medications immediately after a knee injury at work. Although over-the-counter painkillers can help, you might wish to hold off on taking any until you are taken to urgent care or the hospital. Medical providers could be restricted to giving you only certain types of painkiller medications or none at all when you arrive for expert medical treatments because of painkillers already in your system.
How Do You Know If Your Knee Injury is Serious?
Injuries affecting a joint are always painful and a bit frightening, but they aren’t always severe. Your knee injury is probably serious enough to warrant immediate medical attention if you can’t put weight on that leg without severe pain, if the knee is visibly swollen or deformed, or if you are experiencing a fever shortly after the injury. The safest way to know if your knee injury is to allow a medical professional to reach that conclusion through diagnostic testing.
Call the Law Offices of Nathaniel F. Hansford, LLC
After a knee injury, you may be unable to return to work, whether temporary or permanent. The severity of your injury will greatly impact the extent of your compensation. At the Law Offices of Nathaniel F. Hansford, LLC, we handle workers’ comp claims across the state of Georgia and Alabama. We know how to accurately calculate such claims and ensure a settlement is fair for our clients. We can guide you through the entire process!