We use our knees all day when we walk, kneel, crawl, and lift. In some jobs, like flooring and construction, this involves putting a lot of weight on your knees for many hours in the day.
Your knee consists of joints, ligaments, cartilage, and bursa. These components can become injured if your job requires constant movement. These injuries can keep you from working and performing daily activities, severely limiting your ability to enjoy everyday life.
When a knee injury occurs at work, it’s critical to know your rights to worker’s compensation coverage. Let’s take a look at some common causes of knee injuries that happen at work and assess your options if you are injured on the jobsite.
Causes of Knee Injuries at Work
Any job that requires heavy lifting, kneeling, or being on your knees for long periods can cause stress on your joints, tendons, ligaments, and bursa. In addition to these causes, there are additional reasons your knee may be injured.
The most common causes of workplace knee injuries are:
- falls, such as slip and fall accidents or falls from height
- wear and tear due to repetitive motion, overexertion, strain while lifting, and injuries resulting from sudden movements and twisting motions
- objects striking the knee
- hitting the knee on a solid object
Avoiding Knee Injury
While some knee injuries can’t be avoided, there are plenty of ways to prevent knee injuries caused by overexertion and overuse. Stay aware of your surroundings, identify potential hazards to avoid slipping, tripping, falling over power cords and other trip hazards, and any other potentially dangerous situations. When you see a potential hazard, notify your supervisor and let them know when something needs to be fixed, cleaned up, or replaced.
In addition to looking out for potential hazards, ensure that you stretch every few hours. Kneeling or sitting in the same position for long periods of time can lead to knee inflammation. When you stretch regularly and switch positions, you can keep your knees strong and flexible, avoiding unnecessary injury.
If your job regularly requires you to be on your knees for long periods of time, consider wearing knee protection like knee pads or using another form of cushion between your knee and the surface you’re kneeling on.
Common Knee Injuries on the Job
Now that we know the common causes of a knee injury let’s look at the common types of injuries at work. These injuries range from mild to severe, each limiting your ability to work and perform day-to-day activities.
1. Meniscus injury
The meniscus–also known as the bursa–is the cartilage providing a cushion between the top of the shinbone and the bottom of the femur. It is located just behind the kneecap. When this is injured, you may need to rest, ice the joint, or use a knee brace. More severe injuries, such as a tear, require surgery to repair or remove the meniscus.
2. Tendon Injury
The tendons in your knee connect muscle to bone within the knee joint. These tendons move the knee up and down and side to side. A direct blow or strike or overexertion of the knee can result in a sprained, torn, or ruptured tendon. Depending on the severity of the injury, you may need to rest and ice. For severe injuries such as tears and ruptures, surgery may be necessary.
3. Ligament Injury
Ligaments connect the shinbone to the thigh bone and create stability for your knee. Four ligaments stabilize the knee. These are the:
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL)
- Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL)
- Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL)
- Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL)
Most of us are familiar with these abbreviated ligaments. Injury to these ligaments is often painful and requires surgery.
Several bones make up the knee joint. The tibia (shinbone), femur (thighbone), and the patella (kneecap) all connect to create the knee joint. Falls from height and direct hits to the joint can cause a fracture to one or more of these bones. Fractures can be minor, such as hairline fractures, or severe, such as a compound fracture. No matter which type, they require weeks to months of rest and possibly physical therapy or even rehabilitation to return you to normal or near-normal function.
Treating Knee Injuries
The severity of your injury determines the type of treatment you need. If you feel increased stiffness, severe aches, and sharp pain in your knees on the job, you need to notify your employer and immediately go to the doctor.
A doctor may initially recommend conservative treatment options such as anti-inflammatory medications, steroid injections, ice or heat, and using a knee brace. In certain circumstances, the doctor may prescribe physical therapy to improve function and strength in the joint. However, if these methods do not alleviate the pain, surgery may be necessary.
Ignoring Knee Injuries
If you don’t head to the doctor immediately after experiencing a direct injury or begin feeling pain, you may face serious consequences. If the knee becomes too damaged, you may need a total knee replacement. Because knee injuries are often the result of repetitive stress to the joint on the job, they are not only painful but can require expensive medical treatment, forcing you to miss days, weeks, or even months of work.
The ability to move around, work, walk, sit, stand, or lie down often requires a healthy knee. Lost time from work while recovering results in medical bills involved with the treatment and rehabilitation. These costs cause stress on you emotionally and financially. When your knee injury is work-related, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
What Happens If You’re Injured
If you’ve been injured at the workplace, it’s normal to feel confused about what needs to happen next. First, report the injury to your employer immediately so they can submit the proper paperwork to the insurance company.
Next, go to the doctor or ER for medical attention right away and make sure the doctor knows how and where the injury happened. Lastly, contact an attorney to help you through the process of a workers’ compensation injury case.
Being injured in the workplace can be devastating when it’s an injury that may keep you from working for a prolonged time. Don’t go it alone.
File a Workers Compensation Claim Now
Minnesotan construction workers are tough and dedicated, but that alone doesn’t protect them from workplace injury. The UCWCP is an excellent alternative to the state offered reporting program and sees many of these injuries on a regular basis.
Even though workplace accidents are common, that doesn’t mean you have less to lose. Letting these incidents go without seeking workers comp can result in lost wages, medical debt, and even being unlawfully let go because of your injury. Don’t let that happen to you!
Hiring a workers compensation lawyer is the best bet for navigating the hard after effects and guaranteeing your financial, physical, and mental well being.
At Sundquist Law Firm, we specialize in getting Minnesota construction workers the justice they deserve. If you’ve been injured on the job, contact Sundquist Law Firm today and get compensated for your injuries.