Knee injuries can make your life miserable. The loss of stability in your knee can affect the strength, flexibility, and mobility of your leg. And knee injuries often cause severe pain when you stand, sit, or walk.
Additionally, many knee injuries have lifelong effects. Whether you rupture a ligament or tear your meniscus, you may experience knee injury symptoms for the rest of your days. These symptoms may limit both your physical abilities and your quality of life.
What Is the Anatomy of Your Knee?
Your knee forms the joint between your thigh and calf. Three bones come together in your knee. The thigh bone or femur is the longest and strongest bone in your body.
You have two bones in your calf. The tibia is the load-bearing bone that transfers your weight from your femur to your feet. The fibula does not bear your weight. Instead, it stabilizes your leg by connecting your knee to your ankle.
The kneecap or patella sits over the knee. Like the fibula, it does not carry any load. It only serves to protect the joint from impacts.
Your knee includes five major ligaments. These ligaments connect the three bones and guide their movement. They also restrain the bones from moving in the wrong direction.
Your knee ligaments include:
- The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) connects the front of the tibia to the middle of the femur
- The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) connects the rear of the tibia to the middle of the femur
- The medial collateral ligament (MCL) connects the inside of the femur to the tibia
- The lateral collateral ligament (LCL) connects the outside of the femur to the fibula
Ligaments are strong, elastic bands of tissue. They hold the bones together while still providing the stretchiness to allow your joints to extend and the springiness to pull them back into place.
Cartilage lines the knee. You have two types of cartilage in your knee. Articular cartilage covers the surfaces of the femur, tibia, and patella. It provides a clean, tough surface that allows the knee to move smoothly.
Meniscus cartilage includes two cup-shaped pads of cartilage attached to the tibia. It cushions the joint so the femur and tibia do not bang against each other every time you take a step.
What Are Some Potential Causes of Knee Injuries?
Knee injuries usually result from four types of trauma:
Overuse can cause your knee to wear out. Under normal use, your knee cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and muscles form small tears. These tears heal with rest and, in fact, strengthen the tissues.
But when you repeat the same motions without rest, the tears grow instead of healing. As a result, they produce pain and swelling, particularly after use.
These repetitive stress injuries often happen in workers who repeat the same motions for extended periods. For example, workers who stand, walk, or lift continuously through their shifts can develop these injuries. People who develop these injuries during their job can seek workers’ compensation benefits.
Hyperextension happens when your knee gets stretched or bent beyond its capacity. When the bones pull apart, the cartilage can tear away from the bones. Hyperextension can also stretch and tear the ligaments.
Hyperextension injuries can happen in slip and fall accidents. You may hyperextend your knee when it bends too far or in the wrong direction when you fall.
Penetrating injuries occur when an object pierces the knee. This injury causes an open wound. The foreign object can also damage the tissues in the knee.
For example, suppose that you slid across the pavement during a motorcycle accident and sliced your knee open on a piece of broken glass. Your laceration, as well as your damaged knee tendons, would constitute penetration injuries.
A blunt force injury happens when something hits your knee without piercing it. Blunt force trauma can break bones and tear soft tissues. Hitting your knee on the dashboard in a car accident can produce a blunt-force knee injury.
What Types of Knee Injuries Can Occur?
Knee injuries can take many forms, depending on the damaged structures. Examples of knee injuries include:
Your thigh and calf muscles attach to your knee with tendons. When you hyperextend these muscles and tendons, you suffer a strain. Minor strains only involve stretched tissues or small tears. Severe strains involve a tear through the full thickness of the muscle or tendon.
Symptoms of knee strain include:
- Muscle pain and swelling
- Muscle spasms and weakness
- Muscle stiffness
Mild strains heal within four to six weeks with rest. Severe strains may require surgery and several months of rest and physical therapy.
Sprains happen when the knee ligaments hyperextend.
The tears that form in the ligaments can cause:
- Knee pain and inflammation
- Limited range of knee motion
- Popping sound or sensation during the accident
Mild sprains may only require rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medication to heal. Full-thickness tears of the knee ligaments may require reconstructive surgery.
Blunt impacts, hyperextension, and penetrating injuries can damage the cartilage in your knee.
Symptoms of damaged knee cartilage include:
- Knee pain and swelling
- Limited knee movement
- Hitching or clicking in the knee
Torn cartilage heals very slowly. You may need several months of rest for your knee to begin to heal. Doctors may also need to operate on your knee to remove any loose cartilage floating in the joint.
How Can You Get Compensation for a Knee Injury?
You have two options to pursue compensation after a knee injury. You can seek workers’ compensation benefits for knee injuries that happened during the course and scope of your employment. These benefits pay all your reasonable and necessary medical expenses. They also cover part of your lost income.
You can also pursue compensation by showing that someone else’s negligent or intentional actions caused your injury. The compensation for these claims can include your economic and non-economic damages.
Your economic losses include medical bills, lost income, and other financial costs of your injury. Your non-economic losses cover your pain, mental suffering, disability, and disfigurement due to your injury.
Consult an Experienced Naperville Personal Injury Attorney To Discuss Your Knee Injury
A knee injury can affect you for the rest of your life. To discuss your accident and the compensation you can seek for your knee injury, contact the Law Offices of Mathys & Schneid at (630) 428-4040 for a free consultation.