Joint Damage from Car Accidents

Joint Damage from Car AccidentsDrivers and passengers who are in car accidents often suffer damage to their knees and other joints. The injuries occur as the victims collide with each other, strike objects such as dashboards, the steering wheel, and doors. Just the twisting and turning of the body after the impact occurs can cause joint damage too. Victims often require long-term medical care. Surgery may be necessary. Many joint damage victims live with chronic pain.

What kind of joint injuries happen in a car crash?

While any joint can be damaged in a Vancouver or Battle Ground, WA car accident, the one that often requires the most medical care is the knee joint. Other joints commonly injured in car accidents include the facet joints (the joints in the vertebra), shoulder, elbow, hip, wrist, ankle, and foot joints.

Some of the signs of joint pain include:

  • Severe immediate pain
  • A reduced range of motion of the joint
  • An inability to put pressure on the joint
  • A deformity of the joint
  • Bruising and redness
  • Swelling and stiffness
  • An inability to straighten the joint

Some car accident victims with joint damage may hear a popping noise.

What are the parts of the knee joint?

The knee joint is critical for walking, lifting, kneeling, exercise, and other functions. Victims with knee joint damage may no longer be able to perform his or her job, such as construction work or healthcare work, that requires standing or any type of physical labor. Victims will likely have difficulty driving, sleeping, and performing other daily tasks. The pain can be unbearable.

The three parts of the knee are the tibia (the larger bone of the lower leg), the femur (the upper bone leg), and the patella (the kneecap). The bones are held together by muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The cartilage helps absorb shock.

Common traumatic knee injuries include:

  • Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears, which connect the shinbone and the thighbone.
  • Broken and fractured bones.
  • Tears of the meniscus – the tough, rubbery cartilage that acts as a shock absorber between your shinbone and thighbone.”

Other knee injuries and complications from car accidents include knee bursitis, patellar tendonitis, and arthritis.

How is joint damage diagnosed?

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, your physician (after an oral and physical exam) may use the following diagnostic tests for knee joint damage:

  • X-ray. This test uses electromagnetic energy beams to examine the bones and tissue.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This test uses radio frequencies, magnets, and a computer to determine damage or disease of muscle, ligaments, and other body parts.
  • Computed tomography (CT scan). This test uses X-rays and computer technology to examine muscles, bones, organs, and fat.
  • Arthroscopy. This minimally-invasive diagnostic and treatment procedure uses a small, lighted, optic tube (arthroscope) to review images of the joint. The test evaluates the cause of bone pain and inflammation.

Other diagnostic tests for knee damage may include ultrasound and a radionuclide bone scan.

What are the treatments for knee and joint damage?

At Phibrook Law Office, our Vancouver and Battle Ground, WA attorneys work with your orthopedists, doctors, and rehabilitation team to fully illustrate how serious your joint damage is, how your joint injuries affect your ability to work and enjoy your life, what medical care you need, and the cost of that medical care.

The treatments for knee joint damage generally include one or more of the following:

  • Medications for pain management.
  • Therapy to strengthen the muscles around the knee and increase your range of motion and balance.
  • Braces, walkers, and other assistive devices.
  • Injections such as corticosteroids may be injected into the knee joint. These injections may help with pain relief and arthritis. Corticosteroid injections generally help for a few months. Your doctor will explain if and how often the injections can be repeated. Hyaluronic acid to lubricate the knee joint may help. The Mayo Clinic also states that platelet-rich plasma (PRP) which “contains a concentration of many different growth factors …appear[s] to reduce inflammation and promote healing.”
  • Normally, the need for knee surgery after an accident is not immediate. Victims often have the time to weigh the benefits and risks of surgery and nonsurgical rehabilitation beforehand. The different types of knee surgery include:
    • Arthroscopic surgery. This surgical procedure uses a fiber-optic camera and other tools to repair the damage to the joint. The knee incisions are normally small. “Arthroscopy may be used to remove loose bodies from your knee joint, remove or repair damaged cartilage (especially if it is causing your knee to lock), and reconstruct torn ligaments.”
    • Partial knee replacement surgery. Here, the surgeon often uses small incisions to replace the part of the knee that is most damaged with plastic or metal parts. Small incisions help the knee heal faster.
    • Total knee replacement. Here, the surgeon removes any damaged bone and cartilage from the three main ports of the kneed. The damaged knee is replaced with an “artificial joint made of metal alloys, high-grade plastics and polymers.”
    • Knee osteotomy. Here, the surgeon removes some bone from the shinbone or thighbone to help align the knee and reduce the amount/degree of arthritis pain.

What compensation is available to victims with joint injuries in Washington?

Our Washington car accident lawyers demand compensation from the responsible drivers for all your damages for knee joint injuries including:

  • All your medical bills – current and future
  • Your income loss – current and future
  • Your daily physical pain and emotional suffering
  • Any property damage
  • Loss of life’s pleasures
  • Loss of knee function
  • Loss of consortium (marital enjoyment)

You may be entitled to other damages, such as compensation for scarring or disfigurement of a knee joint or other joint.

At Philbrook Law Office, our Vancouver and Battle Ground, WA car accident lawyers are respected for our dedication to our clients, ability to prepare your case, strong negotiation skills, and a record of success in the courtroom. We work aggressively to hold the drivers who caused your joint damage accountable for all your anxiety, pain, and economic losses. To speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer, call us at 360-695-3309 or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation. We represent car accident victims on a contingency fee basis.