How to receive compensation for a hip replacement after a work-related injury
Hip injuries are a particularly debilitating and costly workplace injury, especially in industries where workers must frequently squat, climb, bend, lift heavy items, twist, crawl or pivot. All of these motions place tremendous stress on the hip joint and place workers at an increased risk for injury.
In some cases, hip injuries can occur suddenly, such as with a slip and fall. In other instances, hip injuries may occur gradually, like with workplace activities that involve repetitive motions.
The hip joint is a weight-bearing joint formed where the pelvis meets the thigh bone, containing a ball and socket joint along with ligaments. The ligaments in the hip joint work to stabilize the joint. Also contained in the hip joint are sacs filled with fluid that help cushion the tendons, muscles and bones.
There are multiple muscles that provide support to the hip joint, including the hamstring, gluteals, abductor muscles and quadriceps. Whenever any of these muscles, tendons or bones are injured, you may be unable to return to work temporarily (or permanently).
Common causes of hip injuries in the workplace
Hip injuries can occur at work due to a variety of duties, including:
- Defective equipment and machinery
- Slip and falls
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Falls from ladders and other heights
Regardless of how a hip injury occurs, it can be painful and prevent a worker from returning to work for quite some time, if at all.
Top work-related hip injuries
Some of the most common types of hip injuries in the workplace include:
- Acetabular fractures. This type of fracture occurs in the socket part of the hip joint. Such injuries occur most frequently in motor vehicle accidents, although they may also occur in falls. In many cases, surgery is required.
- Burning thigh pain. Employees who are required to wear heavy tool belts or restrictive clothing may be at risk for experiencing this type of injury. The affected worker may experience a burning sensation on the outer thigh as a result of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve becoming compressed.
- Compartment syndrome. In this condition, the injured worker may experience a buildup of pressure within the muscles. Ultimately, compartment syndrome can result in decreased blood flow. It most often occurs following on-the-job trauma, such as a severe bruise, broken bone or other injuries. If not addressed immediately, permanent damage may occur.
- Femur shaft fracture. The thighbone is also known as the femur. As the longest bone in the human body, a tremendous amount of force is required for this bone to break. Even so, such injuries do occur, most often as the result of machinery and car accidents. It usually requires surgery to recover from this serious injury.
- Hamstring muscle injury. Jobs that require heavy lifting, jumping or running may place workers at an increased risk of developing a hamstring injury. Located at the back of the thigh, the hamstring is usually able to heal on its own without the need for surgery. The recovery period for a hamstring injury may require several weeks or even months, depending on the severity.
- Hip bursitis. Bursitis refers to inflammation and swelling of the fluid-filled sacs that provide joints with cushioning. Hip bursitis can be aggravated by excessive walking, which can lead to the inability to work.
- Hip dislocation. A dislocated hip may occur following a fall or car accident. This type of injury is the result of the ball slipping out of place from the hip socket. Such injuries can result in restricted mobility.
- Hip/pelvis fracture. Hip fractures are the result of a break occurring in the top of the femur and require surgery to heal. The pelvis contains many bones, including the tailbone and sacrum. Although not common, pelvic fractures are usually the result of car accidents. Without immediate attention, pelvic fractures can result in internal injuries and bleeding. In some instances, total hip replacement is the required treatment, meaning that a prosthesis is used to replace the damaged hip.
- Hip labral tears. Hip labral tears may occur as a result of direct trauma or a fall. This type of injury occurs when the cartilage in the hip socket is torn.
- Hip strain. Sudden movements may result in hip strains, which are caused by a strain of the muscles that support the hip joint. Workers who experience hip strains may be at an increased risk for additional injuries later on.
Benefits available to injured workers in North Carolina
Workers who experience on-the-job injuries in North Carolina may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits, which can include compensation for lost wages as well as medical treatment for their injuries.
In most instances, it doesn’t matter if the worker was at fault for the events leading to the injury or even if the employee has a pre-existing condition. Even so, a workers’ compensation insurance carrier may deny a claim, particularly if the claim requires expensive treatment, such as a total hip placement.