We hear about professional athletes suffering knee injuries all the time. These can occur when undue stress is placed on the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) which connects the upper and lower parts of the leg. When the knee is twisted or bends too much, the ligament can stretch or partially tear. In severe cases, the ligament can be torn entirely. Some athletes recover from these injuries, while for others, an ACL injury marks the end of their careers.
But ACL injuries can happen to working people as well as athletes. In particular, workers doing manual labor, such as construction workers, furniture movers, and warehouse workers, are particularly vulnerable to ACL injuries.
What are the symptoms of an ACL injury?
When someone suffers an ACL injury, he or she usually knows right away that something bad has happened. The primary symptoms of an ACL injury include the following:
- An auditory "pop" sound or a "popping" sensation in the knee
- An instant "giving way" that causes the person to sink to the ground
- Pain so severe that the person cannot not continue what he or she was doing
- Inability to bear weight on the leg
- Swelling that begins a few hours after the event
When the ligament is torn entirely, blood can collect in the knee joint. People who experience the symptoms listed above should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
How do ACL injuries happen?
In the workplace, an ACL injury can happen in several different ways:
- When someone stops suddenly and changes direction.
- When a worker falls or jumps from a height and lands on his or her feet.
- When an object hits a person's leg with force.
- A motor vehicle accident can also result in an ACL injury.
Regardless of how it happened, if you have suffered an ACL injury while working, you may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits.
Recovering from an ACL injury
Workers who suffer an ACL injury can face a long and painful ordeal. The recovery period is often six months or more. For lesser ACL injuries, the regimen prescribed is usually rest, regular application of ice to the affected area, use of a compression wrap, and elevation of the leg. In severe cases, surgical repair of the ligament may be necessary. Injured workers may also need physical therapy to regain mobility.
Workers who have suffered an ACL injury may be entitled to temporary total disability benefits, temporary partial disability benefits, or in some cases permanent partial disability benefits. In addition, they may face an increased risk of post-traumatic arthritis.
Speak with an experienced attorney if you have questions about a claim or are not getting the medical or wage loss benefits you think you deserve.