Meniscus Injury on the Job
Workers’ Compensation for Knee Injuries
You may never have heard of menisci until you suffered a knee injury. They’re small pieces of rubbery cartilage in the knees that act as shock absorbers. Anyone can tear a meniscus, though the risk increases with age, as cartilage naturally begins to wear down. Aside from wear and tear over time, the most common cause of a torn meniscus is a twisting of the knee, especially when your weight is on the leg.
Signs of a Meniscus Injury
A torn meniscus typically causes pain in the knee and swelling around the joint. You may also feel a popping sensation, experience stiffness in the need, be unable to fully extend your leg, or feel as if your knee is giving out when standing or walking.
Typically, continuing to use your knee normally will aggravate the injury. That’s especially true if you’re continuing to do heavy work, such as lifting with your legs, working out with squats and other exercises that put pressure on your knees, or engaging in some sort of repeated pivoting motion. But, even ordinary activities like walking can increase strain on the knee and extend the injury.
For most people, this means a meniscus injury will require time off work.
Treating a Meniscus Injury
Given time to rest, a minor tear to the meniscus may heal on its own. But, unlike both bone and soft tissue, cartilage has an extremely limited ability to regenerate. And, some parts of the meniscus are less able to heal naturally than others. That means many meniscus injuries require surgical interventions.
Initial treatment typically includes icing, rest, and perhaps exercises designed to strengthen the supporting muscle. However, if the injury isn’t fully recovered in about six weeks, surgery may be required. Most meniscus repairs are conducted arthroscopically, which means through a minimally invasive procedure. While this reduces some risks and shortens general recovery time from the surgery, it usually takes four to five months to recover full function in the knee after surgery.
In other cases, the repair isn’t possible. In that situation, it may be necessary to surgically remove all or part of the meniscus. Recovery time is typically significantly shorter after this type of procedure, but the removal of all or part of the meniscus leaves the patient at greater risk of future joint problems.
Depending on your job and the availability of other assignments that accommodate your limitations, the extended recovery time may mean an extended period off of work or in an alternative job assignment.
Workers’ Compensation for Meniscus Injuries
The value of a workers’ compensation claim involving a meniscus injury will depend on a variety of factors, including the seriousness and duration of the injury and the medical treatment required. One risk injured workers face when dealing with this type of injury is that the workers’ compensation insurance carrier may offer a lump-sum settlement too early in the process when the long-term prognosis isn’t clear.
This may include offering a settlement before it’s known whether surgery will be required, or immediately after surgery when the extent of recovery remains unknown. Entering into a settlement at this point can be a critical mistake because workers’ compensation typically won’t cover any additional medical care after a settlement. That means if surgery is required later, you’ll likely have to pay for it yourself.
Working with an experienced local workers’ compensation attorney can help you avoid this type of risk. Attorney Kevin P. Broderick offers free consultations to injured workers in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. There’s no obligation and no risk: schedule your free consultation to learn more about your rights, the potential value of your claim, the risks of settling too early, and how to protect yourself. Just call 978-459-1792 or fill out the contact form on this page.
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