Knee Injuries From Car Accidents
You usually hear about knee injuries in relation to sports, but two of the most common causes of knee injuries are motor vehicle accidents and falls. When knees twist or bend involuntarily due to an external force, it places undue stress on ligaments, cartilage, or joints and can result in a variety of painful injuries. The most common types of knee injuries include:
- Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) Injuries
- Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Injuries
- Torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL)
- Sprains or Strains
The posterior cruciate ligament is located towards the back of the knee and is one of the ligaments responsible for connecting the femur to the tibia. It is larger and stronger than the ACL, but can be torn in high-force events like the knee hitting against the dashboard during a car accident or falling directly onto the knee while it is bent.
PCL injuries are somewhat rare and usually accompany injuries to other structures of the knee when they do occur. PCL injuries can also include strains and sprains due to hyperextension or twisting. PCL injuries often result in swelling, instability, difficulty walking, and pain.
The medical collateral ligament is a band of tissue located on the inner part of the knee, which keeps it from over-extending inward. MCL injuries involve either a sprain or tear that is usually caused by a direct blow to the outside of the knee.
Symptoms of an MLC injury include:
- Popping sound at the time of injury
- Tenderness along the inside of the knee
- Feeling that the knee may give out when pressure is applied
MCL injuries generally do not require surgery, but treatment may involve wearing a brace to restrict movement of the knee. Depending on the severity of the injury, you may need physical therapy to completely recover.
The anterior cruciate ligament is one of the four major ligaments in the knee. A ligament is a band of tough but flexible tissue that connects bones or cartilage together. Essentially, ligaments hold joints together and keep joints in their proper place. The ACL helps stabilize the knee and ensures the shin bone moves normally.
The ACL is the most commonly injured ligament in the knee. It can be hurt by the knee:
- Changing direction too quickly
- Suddenly decreasing speed from running
- Landing incorrectly from jumping
- Taking a blow from an object or a collision
When the ACL tears, it unravels. Symptoms of the injury include hearing a “pop” sound, pain, swelling in the knee, an inability to put weight on the knee, and feeling like the knee is unstable.
Treating Torn ACLs
A physician will use X-rays, MRIs, or an ultrasound to determine the extent of the injury. Next, the patient will need to undergo weeks of rehabilitation therapy in order to reduce swelling and pain and to strengthen the muscles in the leg. If the ACL is sprained instead of torn, therapy may be all a patient needs. However, therapy can last for more than six months, requiring a steady time and financial commitment.
In some cases, such as for a severe injury or for individuals who put a lot of stress on their knees, a doctor will recommend a surgical ACL reconstruction. This requires a surgeon to remove the torn ACL and replace it with a healthy piece of tendon. People who have the surgery will need more physical therapy afterward. It can take up to nine months for the knee to heal after surgery.
While living with the injury, patients must rest, ice the knee at certain intervals, apply compression, and keep the knee elevated. This injury will make it difficult for an individual to walk around, as they’ll need to wear a knee brace and use crutches to avoid putting weight on the injured knee. It will also make it hard to complete normal daily activities, and if a person’s job requires them to stand or move a lot, they will need time away from work.
In addition to needing treatment for the torn ACL, people who suffer this injury are more likely to develop osteoarthritis. Arthritis occurs when the cartilage in the joint deteriorates and becomes a rough instead of a smooth surface. This risk is increased even if the injured party has surgery to repair the ligament.
Knee Sprains and Strains
Knee injuries are commonly the result of ligament strains, muscle sprains, or damaged cartilage. Sprains, which is the stretching or tearing of a ligament, can vary in severity from grade 1 (mild) to 3 (severe). Strains involve an injury to the muscles or tendons of the knee and are more often caused by overuse.
These types of injuries can be caused by any trauma that causes the knee to over extend or damage the soft tissue. The RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) protocol is typically used immediately after a sprain or strain injury to control swelling and pain.
Contact a Chicago Car Accident Lawyer
For many people, a serious knee injury means missing time from work, expensive medical bills, and an extended recovery period. If you have suffered a knee injury in an accident, you should call our experienced injury lawyers in Chicago right away. Our skilled attorneys can negotiate with insurance companies or other responsible parties to help fight for the compensation you deserve while you focus on healing. We are committed to both your physical and financial recovery and will be by your side every step of the way.
Contact a Chicago car accident lawyer with Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. at (312) 236-2900.