Workers’ Compensation and Heavy Lifting Injuries such as Knee and Shoulder

The knee and the shoulder are not only two of the most complex joints in the human body, but they are also the joints that are most commonly prone to injury on the job, which may result in payment of workers compensation benefits in the State of Nevada. Jobs that involve heavy lifting, bending, extensive reaching, climbing, and squatting are most likely to cause serious trauma to these upper and lower joints, often resulting in some form of physical disability. Benefits received from Nevada workers compensation will depend on the type and severity of the trauma affecting these specific joints or surrounding tissues, as well as the extent of recovery or lack of recovery after approved treatments have been tried. When certain medical procedures are required, it often results in an automatic permanent partial disability rating and related award of benefits.

Knee injury, medical description and treatment

While there are many types of injuries that can affect the joints in the leg, the most common involve connective tissue in the joints that provide cushioning between the bones known as the tibia and the femur. These special pads of cartilage are located behind the kneecaps and provide cushioning to distribute body weight evenly and reduce friction where the two bones meet. One of these pads of cartilage is called a meniscus, with the plural being referred to as menisci. You have the right to choose which orthopedic doctor you prefer from the approved provider list.

Meniscal tears to the knees

One of the most common injuries to affect these joints is a tear to the menisci. These types of injuries are a result of forceful rotation or twisting, especially if the full weight of your body is on your leg at the time. Heavy lifting, deep squatting, and even kneeling can result in a tear in the menisci.

Description of the Menisci and function

The menisci are two crescent-shaped pieces of cartilage that protect the surface area of the joint and provide shock absorption and cushioning where two bones meet. When torn or injured, the menisci often become swollen, inflamed, and painful, often resulting in stiffness and an inability to completely extend the lower leg at the joint.

Treatment for meniscal repairs

Your physician will typically begin with more conservative treatment methods when it comes to a torn meniscus. Rest, ice, elevation of the affected area, medication, placement of a knee brace, and physical therapy are generally the first options your doctor will try to allow for proper healing of a torn meniscus. However, if the injury is severe, surgical intervention may be required. While surgery may be able to repair a torn meniscus, it is often necessary to remove the area of the meniscus that is torn, referred to as a partial meniscectomy, as only a part of the meniscus is removed. Most surgical procedures that involve the menisci can be performed with a very small incision through the use of an arthroscope, which can speed up recovery time.

Permanent Partial Disability for Meniscectomy

If a partial meniscectomy is required to one meniscus, you will automatically receive a 1% whole person permanent partial disability rating. However, if there are additional complications or pathology involved, a complete evaluation should be performed by the doctor in order to determine the proper percentage for your rating. The doctor should be sure to check for knee stability issues, laxity, any loss of range of motion, and possible impairment due to issues such as arthritis risk. Any of this may indicate the need for a higher percentage in your permanent partial disability rating for Nevada workers compensation.

Shoulder Injury, medical description and treatment

Rather than as a result of overuse, work injuries to the shoulder are more likely to be the result of a traumatic event.

Tendinitis, Impingement and rotator cuff tears

Tendinitis is the pain and inflammation that results from any damage that may occur to the soft connective tissues located within the shoulder area. Impingement results in pain and other symptoms when trying to raise the arm above shoulder level caused by excessive rubbing of the tendons or protective cushioning sac called the bursa against the shoulder blade. Injuries may also cause tears in any of the tendons or muscles that form the rotator cuff. The first line of treatment typically involves conservative measures such as rest, medication, and physical therapy. However, there are times when surgery may be required. You have the right to choose your orthopedic doctor or surgeon from the approved provider list. If you are uncomfortable with your surgeon, you can ask for a second opinion or request a change of provider for transfer of care within Nevada workers compensation guidelines.

Post surgery considerations

It is important to understand that most surgical intervention will result in permanent loss of range of motion to some extent. This will result in a permanent partial disability or impairment award of Nevada workers compensation benefits. If the surgery involved removal of a large portion of the distal clavicle bone, you are eligible for a permanent partial disability award for this as well.

 Diagnosing an injury to the ligaments, tendons and cartilage

An injury to the knee or shoulder that does not respond to conservative treatment options should be more thoroughly examined through the use of other diagnostic procedures, such as through the use of an MRI. This medical proof is necessary to make a proper diagnosis and for you to be able to receive surgical intervention in your case. You may receive a referral from your doctor to see an orthopedic surgeon, but you have the right to select from an approved orthopedic physician on the provider list.

Legal Assistance for work related knee and shoulder injuries

Due to the complex nature of the knee and shoulder joints, you may wish to contact a qualified and experienced attorney from the Morris / Anderson Law Firm to handle your Nevada workers compensation claim for these issues. However, if you have not yet hired an attorney regarding your claim, you may wish to do so in certain cases, such as for the following reasons:

  • If your insurer tries to close your benefits claim before you receive a rating evaluation
  • To review the completeness of any claim for permanent partial disability award

An experienced attorney from Morris / Anderson Law firm can help to be sure that you are receiving the treatment you need and the compensation benefits that you deserve in your case.

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