After an auto accident or a workers’ compensation injury, there are some signs and symptoms that you should pay attention to that would indicate a need for a visit to an experienced accident doctor or healthcare professional.
After a car accident injury, the body will respond to impact by swelling a particular area to help with the healing process. Typically, the swelling is not visible but will cause other symptoms, including pain, discomfort, and bruising.
When there is swelling in a joint or area of the body, the skin can exhibit signs of this swelling by changing color. This phenomenon is known as a bruise. It will usually be black, blue, or yellow and will be sensitive to touch and cause pain. This pooling of the fluid beneath the skin will cause pain and is related to an inflammatory response of the body.
When there is swelling in the knee, it is hard for it to function. Essentially, the knee is a hinge joint. When this joint is swollen, it will be unable to bend and flex. Ability to bend and flex is the primary function of the knee, losing it, will make it hard to walk. Additionally, you may have torn ligaments or sustained a fracture that will inhibit your ability to walk by the impact of the significant pain you will be experiencing.
After the injury, when the knee swells, it will cause a significant amount of pain. This swelling will cause pressure on the nerves and cause pain/discomfort due to this pressure on the nerves. As stated before, internal damage to structures inside of the knee, such as a fracture, can also cause pain and limping. The pain will usually be described as tightness, aching, and swelling.
Depending on the severity of an auto accident, there are a few different causes of knee injuries. However, they have a common theme. After most car accidents, the knee will hit the dashboard, center console, or another area of the car. This impact, usually at a high rate of speed and velocity, would be enough to break a bone, tear ligaments or tendons, cut the skin, or cause significant muscle damage. Below we will review those injuries that can be caused by car accidents in the knee. Furthermore, a knee injury could be caused by an impact to the side of the car, which can push the door in, thereby impacting the side of your leg.
The forceful impact of a car accident is enough to break a bone. Bones are made for stress and bearing weight in certain directions, but they are not good at resisting stress or hits to the bone from the outside of the body. This impact can cause fractures, breaks, and dislocations. If you have any of the signs and symptoms above, you should immediately go to a hospital emergency room or an urgent care clinic. An X-ray will be used to diagnose how severe a fracture is. Usually, in a car accident, the patella (knee cap), tibia/fibula (lower leg bone), or femur (long bone) are the first to be injured. Depending on the severity of the bone break, you might need to be immobilized, or worse, have surgical implantation of screws or plates that allow healing of bones that are not approximated. The screws will allow two pieces of the bone that are not approximated to be brought together and start the healing process. Typically, these surgical screws and plates stay in the body unless they cause a problem. After orthopedic surgery, and period of immobilization, Physical Therapy is usually prescribed to deal with scar tissue and atrophy of muscles.
The knee ligaments are strong and are put under stress in a variety of motions including walking, running, and playing sports. The impact of the tibia and knee cap against the console will cause a torn ACL/PCL/LCL/MCL ligament. This is caused by the forceful displacement of the lower leg bone in its relation to the femur bone. These almost always require orthopedic surgery and physical therapy in order to rehabilitate the ability to walk. Often after the surgery, a person may experience recurrent pain, increased risk for stability, inability to participate in the prior level of function, and possible arthritis or further degeneration of the joint.
Otherwise known as cuts to the skin are caused by breaking glass or other internal structures that break and cause damage to the outside skin. The skin will be healed with stitches, glue, or staples. It is vital to get these injuries addressed as soon as possible due to the risk of infection. If the laceration is deep enough, there can be damage to the muscle tissues as well, which may require orthopedic surgical intervention
– can be caused by a deep laceration severing the nerve and pressure or compression from the swelling caused by damage to the other structures of the knee joint. Most nerve damage is temporary once the swelling goes down in the joint. However, if the nerve is lacerated, the nerve tissue does have some ability to repair itself. If the nerve damage is extensive, it may require extensive surgical nerve repair procedures to re-do the connection to the nerves. Along with the surgical repair, you may need physical therapy in order to strengthen the muscles that would be weakened by the temporary nerve damage. In some extreme cases, the nerve damage may be permanent, and you may have to have the residual effects (weakness, pain, and numbness) addressed by lifelong medication for pain or bracing to improve walking.
Due to the orientation of the knee in relation to the console of the car, both the driver and passenger can be at risk of a knee injury. Also, all individuals in the vehicle may be at significant risk for injury due to rolling and side impacts. It is important to get any car accident injuries or limited mobility addressed by an experienced injury doctor, like an orthopedist or a physiatrist, or another healthcare professional as soon as possible to avoid any long term disability.