Many workers experience meniscus tears while on the job and as a result have ongoing medical issues that are oftentimes not easily resolved. The resultant pain can make returning to work very difficult or impossible.
What are meniscus tears?
Meniscus tears are tears in the cartilage of the knee joint. The meniscus is a disc that cushions the knee joint. Each knee has two meniscus discs that help apportion weight and balance the knee. Damage to either of these discs will mean you will probably be unable to work. These injuries are usually very painful.
- Causes of Meniscus Tears
People can experience either traumatic meniscal tears or can be the result of the degenerative process that accompanies aging. Aging causes cartilage to break down. So as people age they are more susceptible to cartilage tears. But people of any age can experience a meniscus tear. The most common way of tearing your meniscus and injuring your knee is caused by standing in a bent-knee position and quickly turning or twisting with planted feet. Lifting heavy objects increases the risk of injury.
- Degrees of Injury
People who experience meniscus tears will have one of three types of injury: minor, moderate, or severe meniscus tears.
- Minor Tears
People with minor tears will have pain and swelling, but it should go away and the injury should repair itself in 2-3 weeks.
- Moderate Tears
Symptoms of moderate tears include swelling that increases over the course of several days, limited motion of the knee and stiffness, pain either at the side or the center of the knee, ongoing pain that can come and go, sharp pain when the knee is bent. Pain can improve for a period of time (after about 2-3 weeks) after the injury but can recur suddenly if the knee is stressed.
- Severe Tears
If you have a severe tear you might feel your knee catch or pop when you move it and experience pain and swelling either immediately after the injury or after several days. Other symptoms include difficulty straightening the knee, instability or the knee giving out unexpectedly.
Once the meniscus tear is diagnosed and the severity of the injury is determined, your doctor will discuss your treatment options. Recovery can be easy or difficult depending on the severity of the injury. Treatment options range from resting, icing, and elevating the injured knee, physical therapy, to surgeries to repair the damaged cartilage or to remove it. In some cases, total knee replacement surgery may have to be performed.
Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Meniscus injuries can be very disruptive to your life. Chances are you will be unable to work during your recovery period or risk further damaging your knee. If you sustain a knee injury or meniscal tear while on the job, report the injury to your employer, seek medical treatment, and then seek advice from an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. Insurance companies can resist paying for injuries that require expensive or ongoing treatment, so working with a workers’ compensation attorney right from the start is going to optimize your chances of getting full workers’ comp benefits that will cover your medical expenses and lost wages.