The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is the large fibrous ligament that connects the tibia (shinbone) to the back bottom part of the femur (thigh bone). It’s a complex joint that’s task is to stabilize the knee area and keep the shinbone from sliding forward.
When a worker suffers an ACL tear injury, it not only causes major pain and swelling, but it also means significant downtime for the worker. Fortunately, workers may recover workers' compensation benefits.
Ways ACL Tears Occur
One of the most common ways ACL tear injuries occur is when the knee is struck by a blunt force. The force pushes the knee in an abnormal or awkward position, causing the ACL to over-stretch and tear. For instance, when an object or equipment falls on a worker's knee or when he accidentally rams into a stationary object or machine, it can cause acute injury to the ACL.
Direct contact with an object isn’t the only way ACLs are torn. Hyperextension and a sudden change of directions can cause the ligament to tear. If a worker's foot or knee gets caught between two objects and they attempt to pull it out, it can cause the ACL to stretch past its capabilities and rip.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
Most people who tear their ACL instinctively know right away that something ripped; a distinct “popping” sound usually occurs when the ACL tears. Other symptoms are listed below.
- Loss of range of motion
- An inability to bear weight on the affected leg
When the worker visits the doctor for an evaluation after the accident, the doctor will examine the area, perform tests, and discuss the patient’s symptoms to attempt a diagnosis. The doctor will evaluate the knee joint during a physical examination and may order X-rays or MRIs to check for fractures and other injuries and to ultimately diagnose a torn ACL.
Treatment & Recovery
Workers with an ACL tear injury may require surgery depending upon their expected level of post-healing exertion. Older people or those who are not very physical in their jobs may not opt for surgery.
There is a contingent of people who may want to pursue surgery.
- Young adults
- Those with high physical demands
- Those who simply want the best chances to regain full use of their knees
You can consult a doctor to help you decide if surgery is necessary. In addition, most ACLs are treated with pain-relievers, ice, bracing, and rest, and several months of physical therapy. Workers in high-demand physical jobs may require several months of recovery before returning.
Workers in more sedentary positions may be able to return to work sooner. Make sure you work with your doctor to assess when you can get back to work and which job tasks you can perform once you do.
Filing for Workers’ Compensation in Iowa
For help filing a workers’ comp claim for a torn ACL, give our team a call at Walker, Billingsley & Bair. Call us today for a FREE legal consultation at (888) 435-9886. You can also fill out our contact form to set up your consultation.