At Morici, Longo & Associates, many of the clients we represent have suffered a tear to the internal cartilage of the knee. One of the most frequent structures within the knee joint to be torn is the meniscus. A tear of a meniscus as a rupturing of one or more of these fibro-cartilaginous strips in the knee called the menisci. The menisci act as washers to serve a cushioning function in between the large bone of the thigh called the femur and the large bone that makes up the lower leg called the tibia. The menisci are sometimes referred to as washer-like structures that provide cushioning and help provide stability to the places where those two bones meet. They serve a roll of causing some degree of separation in the knee joint that will keep the cartilage covering the femoral condyles and the tibial plateau from rubbing against each other.
We often see construction workers who have suffered a torn meniscus. This is a common injury that can occur anytime the knee joint is twisted. Such injuries can occur when a construction worker slips and falls, steps on an object that causes the knee to rotate, or gets their boot stuck in soft construction site ground. Workers we have represented have reported torn menisci when falling through holes in the planking of scaffolds, slipping on muddy ladders and even slipping on icy construction ground or stepping into ruts.
Meniscal tears can lead to pain and swelling of the knee joint. The torn meniscus can then catch inside of the knee joint resulting in mechanical symptoms such as clicking, catching or locking during motion of the knee joint. The joint will usually be in significant pain when in use, but sometimes when there is no load the pain will be lessened.
Orthopedic surgeons who care for our injured construction worker clients will usually diagnose a torn meniscus through a patient history, x-ray films, and a clinical evaluation in which the orthopedic surgeon puts the knee through a range of motion and attempts to reproduce the clicking, catching or locking sensation in the patient. Once the diagnosis is made, a usual course of treatment includes a prescription for anti-inflammatory and pain medications, initial icing to reduce the swelling, followed by a course of physical therapy.
If the symptoms do not subside, then the next step is usually the ordering of an MRI. An MRI is useful to show the internal structures of the knee joint like the menisci. Each knee joint has two menisci referred to the lateral and medial meniscus. The lateral one being on the outside of the patient’s body and the medial one being the one closer toward the midline. While plain x-rays are usually taken initially to see whether or not the joint space is maintained, the MRI is the more definitive test to determine whether or not the structures are still intact or whether they have been torn.
Once the diagnosis by MRI is made of a torn meniscus that continues to be symptomatic, then the orthopedic surgeon will determine whether or not the patient requires surgical intervention. Usually surgical intervention will be done arthroscopically and will include a smoothing down or trimming of the torn portion of the meniscus and possibly removal of a section.
If you have suffered a serious knee injury in Chicago and believe someone else was at fault, contact our firm today to request a free case review with a Chicago personal injury lawyer.