Knee injuries in motor vehicle accidents are often called dashboard knee injuries because the person slips beneath the car restraints and slams their knees on the dashboard. There are many knee injuries that can occur in a dashboard injury. The patient can fracture their patella, the small disc shaped bone that covers the knee structures or can develop chondromalacia or a softening and damage to the cartilage beneath the patella. You’ll often feel an achy knee as well as a grinding sensation when you walk with the knee. There can be ruptures of several ligaments within the knee, such as the ACL, MCL, LCL or PCL ligaments. The knee may become unstable and surgery may be necessary.
Common symptoms of knee injuries include a popping sensation in the knee, either at the time of injury or when you bend it later, redness, bruising or swelling of the knee, tingling of the knee, grinding or locking from pieces of cartilage being free floating or ripped within the knee, feeling unstable when you walk, or a deformity of the knee (in severe cases).
The types of injuries you can have with the knee include an anterior cruciate ligament tear or ACL tear. This stabilizes the knee and without an intact ACL you can often not walk and will have pain with the knee at rest that gets worse with motion. These can be isolated or can occur along with a tear in the meniscus. Surgery is usually necessary to repair this sort of injury.
You can also get posterior cruciate ligament tears. It is less common because this is a stronger ligament. It can be damaged during a severe dashboard injury or by falling on a knee that is flexed. A PCL injury is rarely isolated and is often coexisting with other injuries to the knee. It is the result of severe trauma.
A medial collateral ligament is the ligament most damaged in just about any knee injury, including motor vehicle accidents. It can be sprained, strained or torn. You can feel tearing or a ripping sensation, followed by swelling and bruising along the medial border of the knee. This type of injury is common in sports injuries as well as motor vehicle accidents.
The knee can become strained or sprained in a motor vehicle accident. It happens when the ligaments get stretched but not torn. All of the above ligaments can be strained or sprained, leading to pain, difficulty walking and a period of disability when it comes to walking on the knee.
It is estimated that about ten percent of all bodily injuries in a motor vehicle accident occur to the knee. Most of these injuries were not serious and represented sprains or strains. Most were as a result of frontal impact injuries and were associated with lacerations of the knee. Knee fractures usually happen as a result of high speed impacts and ligamentous tears occur in about 20 out of every 1000 motor vehicle injuries. Women are more likely to experience a contusion to the knee when compared to men. There has been little variation in knee injuries in spite of changes in the lap or three point restraining system.
If you were involved in a motor vehicle accident and need assistance, please call (916) 921-6400 for free, friendly advice.