Your knees are highly vulnerable to injuries. Because they carry most of your weight, a misstep can easily strain the tissues inside your knees. And since they sit in the front of your body, they have no protection from impacts with the ground or other objects in a collision.
A knee injury can disable you; without healthy knees, you cannot support yourself as you sit down or stand up. You might not even have the strength to carry your body weight to stand or walk.
Here is an overview of the causes and effects of knee injuries and the compensation you can seek for one.
What Is the Structure of Your Knees?
Your knees bring together three leg bones. The femurs run through each thigh and are the longest and strongest bones in your body. The size and strength of these bones reflect the amount of stress they carry as they transfer the weight of your body from your hips to the ground.
The fibula and tibia sit below your knee in your calf. The tibia bears the weight of your body and transfers it from your knee to your ankle. The fibula is a non-weight-bearing bone that stabilizes your ankle by connecting it to the tibia just below your knee.
Four ligaments connect these bones to each other. Ligaments provide tough, elastic connections at your joints. They hold the bones so they stay together but also flex and extend in the intended directions rather than twisting.
The four knee ligaments include the following:
- Medial collateral, connecting the inner side of the femur to the tibia
- Lateral collateral, connecting the outer side of the femur to the fibula
- Anterior cruciate, connecting the middle of the femur to the front of the tibia
- Posterior cruciate, connecting the back of the femur to the middle of the tibia
The patella sits over the knee. Commonly referred to as the kneecap, the patella protects the joint from impacts and hyperextension. You have a fifth ligament, the patellar ligament, that holds the patella over your knee joint.
Cartilage lines your knees. The cartilage cushions your knees and provides a tough, smooth surface for the bones to move against each other. Without the cartilage, the leg bones grind on one another, leading to arthritis. The meniscus lines the top of the tibia, while articular cartilage lines the bottom of the femur.
What Can Cause a Knee Injury?
Knee injuries can result from a few forms of trauma, including:
Hyperextension happens when your knee gets stretched in an unusual way. Hyperextension injuries can occur when your weight gets distributed awkwardly, causing your knee to buckle backward or sideways.
For example, if you slip and fall on a surface, your knee might bend sideways as your foot loses traction. This bending can cause a hyperextension injury.
Hyperextension injuries can damage soft tissue, including cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and muscles.
Blunt trauma happens when you hit your knee without causing an open wound. A pedestrian accident, for example, might cause blunt trauma to your knee twice: once when you get hit by a vehicle and again when you hit the ground.
Blunt trauma can fracture bones and bruise soft tissue.
Penetrating trauma occurs when something pierces your knee, creating an open wound. Thus, a workplace accident where you fall onto a sharp object with your knee will cause a penetrating injury.
Penetrating injuries can sever ligaments, tendons, or muscles. They can also scrape cartilage or damage blood vessels and nerves. If microorganisms enter the open wound, the knee injury can become infected.
What Are Some Examples of Knee Injuries?
A knee injury can involve many different types of tissues. Some examples of knee injuries include:
Strained or Sprained Knee
Knee strains and sprains happen when a hyperextension injury stretches the soft tissue in your knee.
A knee sprain occurs when you stretch or tear the ligaments in your knee.
Symptoms of a knee sprain include:
- Knee instability
- Popping sound during the accident
A knee strain happens when you stretch or tear the tendons or muscles in your knee.
A knee strain can cause symptoms such as:
- Muscle spasms
Minor knee sprains and strains can heal on their own with rest. Severe knee sprains and strains may require surgery.
Stress on the knee can tear the cartilage lining the leg bones. A meniscus tear happens when forces on the knee cause the cartilage lining the tibia to stretch and tear.
Cartilage can regrow and heal, but the process takes a long time.
While you recover from a cartilage injury, you may experience:
- Clicking in the knee
- Hitch in the knee movement
If loose cartilage is floating inside the knee joint, doctors may perform surgery to remove it.
A fractured patella happens when a blunt impact causes the patella to break into two or more pieces. A non-displaced break may heal on its own with a cast or brace. A displaced break will probably require surgery to reconstruct the patella.
What Compensation Can You Seek for a Knee Injury?
If your knee injury resulted from someone else’s negligence, you can seek injury compensation for your damages. Your damages can come in two different forms.
Economic damages cover the financial costs of your injury. This includes the expenses you incurred for medical treatment, therapy, and medication. It also includes the income you lost due to your inability to work.
Non-economic damages cover the impact of your injury on your quality of life. Examples of non-economic losses include your inability to perform the activities you could before your injury. They also include the physical pain and mental suffering you had to endure.
A knee injury can cause almost constant pain when you sit, stand, or even lie down. Your knee injury can limit your mobility and strength, interfering with both work and recreational activities. Contact Shaked Law Personal Injury Lawyers for a free consultation to discuss the compensation you can seek for these and other effects of your knee injury at (305) 937-0191.