Many professions put workers at risk of knee injuries. Construction workers, plumbers, electricians, delivery drivers, warehouse workers, linemen, utility installers and a host of other individuals climb, bend, kneel and stoop in a way that puts pressure on the knees. For many, having some knee pain during and after their shift is normal. But there are times when a knee injury should stop them from working, so they can go get medical care.

There are a few signs that a knee injury is serious. If any of these occur, it’s usually a good idea to alert your supervisor to the injury and go see a doctor who can determine what’s wrong with the knee and what options you have for treatment.

  • You hear or feel a pop at the time of the injury. This could signal that there’s a dislocation or something out of place.
  • You feel severe pain. This is much different from pain that comes from an overuse injury or a cumulative trauma injury.
  • You have swelling in the knee. While it’s possible that the swelling could be from something like water retention, it’s usually best to have it checked. If you opt to put off going to the doctor, remember that any swelling that lasts 72 hours should be evaluated.
  • You see a deformity in the knee. This can include things like the knee moving more than usual or the kneecap not being where it should be.
  • You can’t straighten your leg or put weight on it. Both of these are signs of a severe injury to the knee. Some individuals say that their knee buckles under them when they put weight on it.

When the knee injury occurs while you’re working, workers’ compensation should pick up the medical bills. It can also provide benefits like partial wage replacement if you can’t return to work right away. Some workers have to fight for these benefits, so be prepared for this if the time comes.