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Workers’ Compensation for Workplace Injury-Induced Chondromalacia

Knee injuries are among the more common workplace injuries.

Workplace injuries are more common than we think—these injuries, particularly those requiring hospitalization and surgery. Injuries can lead to high medical expenses, wage loss, etc. Knee injuries are among the more common workplace injuries. Apart from causing pain and discomfort, they can affect daily activities, making it difficult to walk, stand, or bend the knees.

At times, knee surgeries can disable people only for a specific time. However, it is seen that even if the surgery is successful or the knee is medically deemed functional, it rarely returns to its normal condition. The effects of the initial damage caused to the knee can last forever. Our St. Louis work injury lawyer will discuss a knee condition known as chondromalacia in this post.

St. Louis worker with Chondromalacia

What is Chondromalacia?

Chondromalacia is one of the types of knee injuries seen among workers. It occurs when a misaligned knee causes the cartilage on the back of the knee bone to soften, leading to further degeneration of the knee area. It can lead to issues like damage to the tendon and the meniscus and a fracture in the patella (the knee cap). Additionally, it makes the knee vulnerable to repeated trauma, resulting in complete damage to the cartilage.

How does chondromalacia occur?

Chondromalacia, known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, develops due to cartilage degeneration beneath the kneecap (patella). Here’s how this condition typically occurs:

Normally, the knee is covered with a protective layer of cartilage. During knee movement, the patella glides smoothly along a groove in the femur (thigh bone). This cartilage ensures that the bones do not rub directly against each other, facilitating pain-free motion.

Factors Leading to Chondromalacia:

  • Injury or Trauma: Direct impact to the knee can damage the cartilage, starting a degenerative process.
  • Repetitive Stress Injury: Activities that repeatedly strain the knee, such as running or jumping, can gradually wear down the cartilage.
  • Overuse: Intensive knee use in sports or jobs that require frequent kneeling or squatting can accelerate cartilage deterioration.
  • Long Periods of Inactivity: Extended inactivity can cause the knee cartilage to stiffen and weaken, making it more susceptible to damage when knee movement resumes.
  • Misalignment of the Knee: If the knee or patella is misaligned, it can lead to uneven stress on the cartilage, speeding up its wear and tear.

Common Movements Causing Pain:

  • Activities that place high stress on the knees, such as kneeling, squatting, bending, and extending, are likely to exacerbate cartilage deterioration. This deterioration is often felt as severe pain during these movements.

Worsening of Symptoms:

  • Pain is typically more intense when engaging in activities like walking downhill or descending stairs, where the pressure on the kneecap increases significantly.

Understanding these mechanisms is crucial for managing chondromalacia effectively. It allows for appropriate interventions to help alleviate symptoms and slow the progression of cartilage damage.

Chondromalacia symptoms

Chondromalacia, often known as “runner’s knee,” presents a range of symptoms that primarily affect the knee joint. Below is a detailed description of the symptoms categorized for better understanding:

Primary Symptom:

  • Pain with Stair Movement: Most commonly experienced while ascending or descending stairs, this pain is typically the first and most noticeable sign of chondromalacia.

Additional Symptoms:

  • Knee Stiffness: The knees may feel tight and restricted, particularly after rest or inactivity.
  • Dull Aching Pain: This persistent pain is typically located at the front of the knee, around the kneecap area.
  • Pain After Prolonged Sitting: Often referred to as “theater syndrome,” this symptom involves discomfort and pain after being seated for an extended time.
  • Grinding or Grating Sensation: This feeling occurs in the knee when extending the leg and can sometimes be accompanied by a noticeable sound.

These symptoms indicate the deterioration or damage to the cartilage under the kneecap, which cushions and facilitates smooth joint movement. Recognizing these symptoms early can aid in seeking appropriate treatment to manage pain and prevent further joint damage.

Treatment for chondromalacia

Chondromalacia is first treated with a combination of conservative methods such as ice application, compression, protection, anti-inflammatory medication, the elevation of the affected area, physical therapy that focuses on strengthening the quadriceps and hamstring muscle, and rest. First, patients are asked to rest the knee completely and slowly re-introduce movement and activity. While surgery is not required in most cases, rare cases call for surgery.

Workers compensation for chondromalacia

Chondromalacia is most commonly caused due to blunt trauma and injury to the knee. However, considering the fact that it is a degenerative condition, associating it with an exact event can prove to be a challenge. Injured workers would greatly benefit from consulting with a St. Louis workers compensation lawyer. Call the Law Office of James M. Hoffmann 24/7 at (314) 361-4300 for a FREE consultation.

Updated: April 26, 2024