The knee is one of the hardest working joints in the human body. It is a necessary component of mobility. Our knees also bear the body’s weight. In occupations requiring work in cramped spaces, such as HVAC or plumbing repair, a worker may spend many hours a day on his knees.
Over time, the wear and tear on the various parts of the knee can lead to osteoarthritis, a degenerative disorder that causes worsening pain and stiffness. A traumatic incident, such as banging or twisting a knee in a fall, can result in sudden and lasting damage to a knee or knees, as well as the ligaments and tendons that support the knee and the muscles around it. The types of overuse and accidents that can cause serious knee injuries or disorders are among the most common in the American workplace. They can put a worker out of a job temporarily or permanently.
If you have been diagnosed with a knee injury or disorder related to your job activities, call the North Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys at Hardison & Cochran. We know how to secure compensation for those with work-related knee problems, including collecting the evidence to show a causal connection between your job and your condition.
Learn more by calling us today at (800) 434-8399 or filling out our online form. We assist clients from throughout North Carolina, including in Raleigh, Cary, Durham and Fayetteville. We can provide a free review of your case.
What are Common Knee Injuries and Disorders?
Knee injuries and disorders are common. The WebMD site says knee problems and injuries most often occur during work-related tasks, sports or recreational activities or home projects. In this area of North Carolina, many older military men can tell you how their days as a paratrooper damaged their knees.
Knee disorders result from sudden (acute) injuries or from overuse, WebMD says. A direct blow to the knee, abnormal twisting or bending, or falling on the knee in an accident can cause pain, bruising, swelling and worse injuries such as:
- Sprains and strains – These can impact the ligaments and tendons that support the knee and surrounding muscles.
- Ligament tears – Including tears to the medial collateral ligament (MCL), which WebMD says is the most commonly injured ligament of the knee, and to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) inside the knee joint, which is a common sports injury caused by making sudden stops or changes in direction.
- Fractures (broken bones) – Including the kneecap and/or adjacent portions of the femur, tibia or fibula. “Knee fractures are most commonly caused by abnormal force, such as a falling on the knee, a severe twisting motion, severe force that bends the knee, or when the knee forcefully hits an object,” WebMD says.
- Kneecap dislocation and knee joint dislocation – These are rare but serious injuries.
- Osteoarthritis – This is a degenerative joint disease. It often develops at the site of a previous injury and causes pain, inflammation and stiffness
- Repetitive activities or repeated or prolonged pressure on the knee – This can cause overuse injuries, WebMD says. Overuse injuries include:
- Inflammation of the small sacs of fluid that cushion and lubricate the knee (bursitis), the tendons or of the band of fibrous tissue that runs down the outside of the thigh (iliotibial band syndrome)
- Small tears in the tendons (tendinosis)
- Thickening or folding of the knee ligaments (plica syndrome)
- Pain in the front of the knee or kneecap (patellofemoral pain syndrome).
Less severe knee injuries usually benefit from over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers and the RICE treatment (Rest; Ice to ease pain and reduce swelling; Compression; and Elevation to minimize swelling).
A worker with a knee injury might be on crutches for a few or several days. Once pain subsides, exercise usually helps to restore movement.
The pain of a knee injury caused by long-term wear and tear (osteoarthritis) may require physical therapy in addition to medication and the RICE treatment. More severe inflammation and pain might be treated with pain medication injections or injections of hyaluronic acid, a fluid in the body’s joints that may be depleted in an injured knee.
Sometimes damage to the knee is so severe that surgery is required to relieve pain or lack of mobility. Knee surgery options include:
- Arthroscopy – To remove damaged parts of the knee joint (debridement) and clean or flush the joint to remove any loose parts (lavage)
- Osteotomy – To reposition or reshape the bones of the knee that have been damaged by osteoarthritis. This procedure changes the position or alignment of the knee so the patient’s weight shifts away from the damaged area.
- Arthroplasty – To implant an artificial joint made from metals and plastic to replace all or part of the knee joint.
Unfortunately, none of these surgical options is a cure. Even an artificial knee can wear out eventually or cause other problems and have to be replaced.
Workplace Injury and Knee Disorders
The types of workplace accidents and activities that most often cause injury in the U.S. are the same types of accidents and repeated stress, strain and other job-related wear and tear that can damage the knee.
The Liberty Mutual Insurance Company’s Workplace Safety Index identifies the top five causes of disabling workplace injuries each year as:
- Overexertion (excessive lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying or throwing)
- Falls on the same level
- Falls to a lower level
- Bodily reaction to bending, climbing, reaching, standing, sitting, slipping or tripping without falling
- Being struck by an object, such as a tool or materials falling on a worker from above.
The No. 9 cause in the Workplace Safety Index is “repetitive motion – injuries due to repeated stress or strain.”
The Challenges of a North Carolina Knee Injury Claim
One obstacle to a knee injury or disorder claim is that degeneration of the knees sometimes occurs naturally. The lawyer for your employer’s insurance company is likely to maintain that your knee injury is not job-related.
The challenge for obtaining workers’ compensation benefits or damages in knee injury cases stems from needing to prove cause and effect (for example, you fell on the job, and that fall directly led to your knee injury). Work records, accident reports and witnesses as well as medical records can help prove such a claim.
A North Carolina workplace injury attorney who is experienced with the state’s workers’ compensation system and with clients who have suffered a knee injury or disorder will know how to document and demonstrate the causal connection between your job-related activities or workplace accident and your knee injury.
Our Raleigh Knee Injury Lawyers Are Ready To Help
Hardison & Cochran has pursued many injury and workers’ compensation cases in North Carolina in which their client had been disabled by a knee injury or disorder. If you or a loved one needs a lawyer to assist with your workers’ compensation claim, contact Hardison & Cochran today by using our online form or calling us at (800) 434-8399. We can respond within 24 hours and set up a free consultation about your case.