Knee injuries from a car accident can occur when the knee hits some part of the car’s interior on impact, such as the dashboard, door, and window or, in some accidents, the roof. A knee injury may also be caused by twisting or hyperextension of the leg.
Common Knee Injuries from a Car Accident
- An anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear
- A posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) tear
- A torn meniscus
- An injured medial cruciate ligament (MDL)
Knee injuries from car accidents often cause permanent knee problems and may require surgery and intense physical therapy.
Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear
An ACL tear from a car accident is a severe knee injury. The ACL is the ligament that holds the knee joint in place. It is a key component of the knee and often takes a long time to heal. An ACL tear frequently causes months of pain and difficulty walking.
A popping sound at the time of the accident is followed by the knee buckling. Within hours, the knee may stiffen and begin to swell. A torn ACL from a car accident often requires an MRI for an accurate diagnosis.
The severity of the ACL tear will determine the treatment. Sometimes physical therapy is enough to resolve the problem over time. Some ACL tears require surgery.
Posterior Cruciate Ligament Tear
The posterior cruciate ligament is located toward the back of the knee and helps maintain the knee’s stability. A PCL injury from a car accident in Florida can often leave the victim unable to walk for several months.
Symptoms include knee pain, swelling, limited range of motion, and knee instability or “giving out” (similar to an ACL tear).
An MRI is called for to determine the extent of the damage. Icing, rest, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, and physical therapy may help, but when the patient reports being unable to trust the stability of the knee over a long period of time, surgery is often required.
A torn meniscus is damage to the cartilage on top of the tibia that allows the femur to move smoothly at the joint. A damaged meniscus causes increased friction in the joint, which is usually very painful. Other symptoms are swelling, tenderness, popping, buckling or locking, and limited range of motion.
The doctor does a visual/manual evaluation of the knee, flexing the knee and rotating the tibia while feeling along the joint. A click indicates a torn meniscus. An MRI will confirm the diagnosis.
Arthroscopic surgery is often required for a torn meniscus if conservative treatment with ice, NSAIDS, rest, and physical therapy is unsuccessful.
Medial Collateral Ligament Tear
An MCL tear is damage to the part of the knee that controls its flexibility, causing severe pain, swelling, and knee instability, often affecting the victim’s ability to walk.
Three grades are used to assess the severity of an MCL injury. A Grade 1 MCL injury may last from one to two weeks. Using ice, NSAIDS, and rest, recovery from a Grade 2 MCL injury usually takes three to four weeks, while a Grade 3 MCL injury requires six weeks or more. A Grade 3 MCL tear often requires physical therapy and, in some cases, surgery.
If you’ve suffered a knee injury in a car accident in Florida, you may have a claim to recover your losses. I recommend you read my book, Five Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Florida Accident Case.