20 year FF here. Tore my meniscus while exercising at the fire station 16 years ago. Made claim, Had 'scope surgery, got paid, returned to work with what then were minimal symptoms. A few years later the same knee started acting up. Again diagnosed with a meniscus tear in the same area. Was advised by Dr. to lay off of running and high impact activities , except when they were work-related. I complied. Got 'scoped again. Was told that I had Osteoarthritis and was bone on bone. I laid of running and any real heavy legwork hoping to make it to retirement before needing a knee replacement. Fast forward to earlier this year and I am now very challenged to be at work and am, Unfortunately, now scheduled for a knee replacement and am not certain whether or not I will be able to return to work and finish the last 6 years of my career.
There is a thing called "Post-traumatic-Arthritis"--its when a joint develops arthritis due to becoming traumatically injured, as in my case. When they go in and do the scoping the are actually removing pieces of my meniscus, which changes the structural alignment of my knee and then causes the arthritis. My other knee is fine and I have only the normal Osteoarthritis here and there, in my fingers etc. I am only 53 and my knee is so severely arthritic that my Dr. says it looks 80.
I know that once a WC claim is closed, Im SOOL. However, Post-traumatic-Arthritis is a reletively new classification. And of course, how is anyone supposed to predict whether of not they will develop it years and years later, after getting injured, so naturally I accepted terms and went on with life.
Question is : Since PTA is a real (if recently discovered) thing, is there a way to re-open my case? Or, if I am unable to continue my career through to retirement and am forced to retire due to disability, what are my options as far as securing income as it relates to my job, since it would possibly be classified as a disability due to work related injury?
Anyone know if this is possible or heard of any similar situations?
Mahalo for your time!