An Atlanta attorney discusses how to get workers' compensation for a work-related meniscus tear.
The meniscus is a C-shaped, rubbery piece of cartilage that provides cushioning and stability between the shinbone and thighbone. It acts as a shock absorber within the knee when you walk, climb stairs, or squat down to lift an object.
There are two types of the meniscus:
- Medial meniscus - Situated on the inner side of the knee.
- Lateral meniscus - Situated on the outer side of the knee.
Symptoms of a meniscus tear can vary depending on the nature of the injury or the general health of the person who sustains it. The most common symptoms include stiffness, aches and pains on the inner or outer part of the knee, swelling, clicking and popping. Pain may increase when standing from a seated position, walking or climbing stairs.
Types of meniscus tears
There many ways the meniscus sustains damage. The most common injuries sustained by workers include:
- Acute meniscus tears. Acute meniscus tears are often caused by sudden blunt force to the knee, as well as intense twisting or knee hyperextension. This commonly occurs in physically strenuous occupations, such as construction and warehousing. Police and first responders may sustain acute meniscus tears when physically engaged in an emergency situation. An acute meniscus tear may be accompanied by a popping or tearing sensation in the knee.
- Degenerative meniscus tears. Degenerative meniscus tears are usually caused by long-term wear and tear of the knees. This is common among people who frequently kneel, squat, walk up and down flights of stairs, or twist. A person's age, weight and general health can be a contributing factor in a degenerative meniscus tear. This type of meniscus tear is most common among workers who perform repetitive physical tasks, such as construction workers, manufacturing workers, retail workers, warehouse workers, landscapers and people who work in agriculture.
Diagnosing and treating a meniscus tear
Your doctor will need to perform a physical examination, X-ray and MRI to look for any abnormalities in the affected knee. There are many treatment options available for meniscus tears, depending on the type of tear. Some common treatments include:
- Rest and/or activity modification
- Medications for pain and inflammation
- Physical therapy to increase strength and mobility in the knee
- Wearing a knee brace for support
- Applying ice to the affected knee
If you sustained a serious meniscus tear on the job, you may need to undergo an operation to restore the full functioning of the knee. Surgery may include:
- Non-invasive meniscus tear surgery - Arthroscopy is used to repair a partial or complete meniscus tear.
- Arthroscopic meniscal debridement - The most common meniscal surgical procedure that involves using arthroscopy to remove torn meniscal fragments.
Without surgery, meniscus tears never fully heal, but the symptoms can be reduced within roughly 6-12 weeks. With surgery, a full recovery can take up to eight weeks. Once you've fully recovered, you should be able to fully bend or straighten the affected knee without feeling any pain or discomfort. In addition, you should be able to comfortably walk, jog or jump.
Getting workers' compensation benefits for a meniscus tear
If you sustained a meniscus tear on the job, it's likely that you will need to take time off from work. Workers' compensation in Georgia is a no-fault system designed to provide financial support for injured workers. Getting benefits isn't as easy as it sounds. You must prove that your injury occurred within the scope of your employment. To build a strong workers' compensation claim, you must report your injury to your employer in writing as soon as possible. Let your employer know the time, date and location of the incident or the onset of symptoms.
You should also see a doctor as soon as possible to get a diagnosis and begin treatment. Make sure you tell your doctor that you were hurt on the job. This will be documented in your medical evaluation and can be used to support your claim. Most importantly, speak to an experienced Atlanta workers' compensation attorney who knows how to litigate cases like yours and get results. Contact The Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays & Associates, P.C. and set up your free case evaluation.