What To Do For A Sprained Knee
Knee sprains account for 40% of all knee injuries. The good news is that some types of knee sprains can heal at home. So, what to do for a sprained knee? How do you recover from this knee injury?
First, the treatment will depend on the type of sprain :
- Mild sprain: The ligament got stretched, but didnt tear.
- Moderate sprain: A part of the ligament tore. Or, one or more ligaments got injured.
- Severe sprain: The ligament is torn completely.
Ive detailed 4 steps that will help you recover regardless of the severity of your sprain. But, moderate or severe tears may need extra help. Well talk about that, too.
But remember: The first three weeks after a knee sprain are key. During that time, follow these steps to heal your knee sprain:
Types Of Knee Sprains
Most knee sprains can be treated without surgery, but severe sprains may require surgical intervention. Below is a list of types of knee sprains and are graded on a severity scale.
- Grade 1 Sprains: The ligament is mildly damaged and slightly stretched but is still able to help keep the knee joint stable.
- Grade 2 Sprains: The ligament is stretched to the point where it becomes loose, often referred to as a partial tear.
- Grade 3 Sprains: Referred to as a complete tear of the ligament the ligament has been split into two pieces, and the knee joint is unstable.
Treating A Strained Knee
Also Check: Bleach Dark Knees
Why Should I See A Physical Therapist
A few simple visits to a physical therapist can teach you the proper strengthening exercises that will help restore your range of motion, strength, balance, and proprioception .
Many people assume that once they are no longer in pain, they can go back to normal activities. In reality, physical therapy is the only way a person can achieve a full recovery from a knee or ankle sprain.
A carefully constructed, supervised exercise program not only on helps to strengthen the ligaments holding the joint together, it also strengthens the muscles around the joint, preventing future injuries.
When done correctly, with physical therapy, recovering from a knee or ankle sprain can leave you as good as new in a few short weeks.
Always consult your physical therapist or physician before starting exercises you are unsure of doing.
How Can I Manage A Knee Sprain
- Rest your knee and do not exercise. Do not walk on your injured leg if you are told to keep weight off your knee. Rest helps decrease swelling and allows the injury to heal. You can do gentle range of motion exercises as directed to prevent stiffness.
- Apply ice on your knee for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover the bag with a towel before you apply it. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
- Apply compression to your knee as directed. You may need to wear an elastic bandage. This helps keep your injured knee from moving too much while it heals. It should be tight enough to give support but so tight that it causes your toes to feel numb or tingly. Take the bandage off and rewrap it at least 1 time each day.
- Elevate your knee above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your leg on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably. Do not put pillows directly behind your knee.
Recommended Reading: Does Aflac Cover Hysterectomy
How Long Does It Take To Recover From A Knee Sprain
Rehabilitation varies based on the injured ligament and how it is treated. The most important part of the healing process is getting you back to normal before resuming activities.
Rehabilitation will include a light to moderate physical therapy program, depending on your level of pain. This is necessary to improve joint stability, full range of motion and your knee strength. Recovery time is dependent on the ligament injured and the severity of the injury.
You Notice An Obvious Deformity
If you notice your knee jutting outward in a way it never has before, take note. A dislocated or fractured patella can cause injuries like this, explains Brian Schwabe, C.S.C.S., board-certified sports physical therapist based in Los Angeles.
While some deformities occur over time, when the deformity is a result of an injury, it could be the result of a fracture or chronic wear on the knee joint. If you are already experiencing any kind of misalignment in your lower extremities, then you could be more prone to this type of injury.
If you notice a bone deformity after an injury, he recommends seeking the assistance of an orthopedic doctor immediately. The doctor will likely take x-rays as well as perform a visual diagnosis to determine if you need surgery.
Read Also: How To Get Rid Of Knee Fat And Cellulite
Surgical And Other Procedures
You might need surgery to implant pins, plates, rods or screws to hold your bones in place while they heal. A bone graft might be used to help healing. These options might be necessary if you have:
- An open fracture
- A fracture in which the bone pieces move before they heal
- Loose bone fragments that could enter a joint
- Damage to the surrounding ligaments, nerves or blood vessels
- Fractures that extend into a joint
Even after reduction and immobilization with a cast or splint, your bones can shift. So your doctor likely will monitor your progress with X-rays. If your bones move, you might then need surgery.
In some cases, the surgeon will immobilize your fracture by using an external fixation device. This consists of a metal frame with two or more pins that go through your skin and into the bone on both sides of the fracture.
With external fixation, a metal frame outside your body immobilizes the fracture with two or more pins that pass through your skin and into the bone on either side of the fracture.
Read Also: How To Stop Limping After Knee Surgery
Symptoms Diagnosis And Treatment Of A Broken Bone In The Hand Or Wrist
Many times, when a bone is broken in the hand or wrist during game play, the person knows it. Breaking a bone hurts, and sometimes it can even be heard. At the time of the injury, you may hear or feel a snapping or grinding. After the injury, it may be painful to touch or move the area that was hurt playing sports. Swelling and bruising may follow the injury, and the area may continue to hurt constantly or when touched.
Broken bones need to be evaluated. When you see a hand specialist for a suspected broken bone in the finger, hand or wrist, the doctor may take x-rays or occasionally order a CT scan or MRI to see the structure of the bones, tendons, ligaments and nerves. Some broken bones require realignment you may hear your hand specialist call this a reduction. Depending on the break location, type of fracture, severity and other factors, you may be given a brace or cast to immobilize the area. The hand specialist may also give you medication and prescribe physical therapy after a time. Some of the most serious breaks may require surgery, which should be done by a hand specialist.
Recommended Reading: How Do I Get Rid Of Fat Around My Knees
You Felt Or Heard A Pop
Sometimes, a popping sound after a movement can indicate something is out of place.
Oftentimes this type of sound upon injury is indicative of a ligamentous injury, says Schwabe. Not all ligamentous injuries are full tears, though, and not all require surgery.
However, if you also experience excessive swelling and instability, get it checked out by an M.D. If you only have a mild sprain then you will be able to rehab it with physical therapy, he says.
The pop is what you hear as a result of a ligament tear, a meniscus tear, strained tendons, or a dislocated kneecap. Usually what happens is youll simultaneously hear and feel the pop.
If youre not familiar with the meniscus, its the cartilage in the knee that functions as a shock absorber. Each knee has two menisci, and theyre shaped like horseshoes. The medial meniscus is on the inside of the knee, and the lateral meniscus is on the outside.
The popping sensation can be difficult to explain, but youll certainly know it when it happens to you. Though the sound originates in the knee, youll hear it as though it was directly in your ear. Its as if the sensation travels up your body, and when it gets to your brain, it becomes audible.
If the pain is severe, youll want to visit a doctor as soon as possible. Surgery is often the recommended course of action, but physical therapy and other non-invasive remedies may be prescribed as alternatives.
Going To Physical Therapy
First, a physical therapist manages the symptoms. They do so with treatments like using temperatures, massage, taping, electrotherapy, a light stretch, and more. This depends on the therapist and what they consider best for your case.
After managing the symptoms of your knee sprain, your physio will give you exercises. They can include stretching or strengthening movements. These are key to recovering from a knee sprain.
Recommended Reading: What Is The Best Knee Walker
How Do I Know If I Sprained My Knee
A knee sprain is a common injury that occurs when one of your four major knee ligaments stretches too far or partially tears. This is often a sports-related injury.
The four ligaments are the anterior cruciate ligament , posterior cruciate ligament , medial collateral ligament and lateral collateral ligament , which work together to stabilize your knee joint. The ACL and PCL form an X as they cross each other inside your knee and work together to control the back and forth motion of your knee. The ACL is in the middle of your knee and is responsible for keeping the tibia from sliding in front of the femur . The PCL runs down the back of your knee and prevents the tibia from sliding behind the femur. Your MCL is on the inside of your knee. This ligament makes sure your femur does not swing too far outward. The LCL is across from the MCL on the outside of the knee and also controls the femurs side to side movement.
Treatment Of A Knee Sprain
Immediately following a knee injury and before being evaluated by your doctor, you should initiate the R.I.C.E. method of treatment.
- Rest: You must ensure that you get rest, as more damage could result from putting pressure on the injured area.
- Ice: Ice packs should be applied over the injury to decrease swelling and pain. Ice should never be placed on the skin directly, instead, it should be applied over a towel on the affected area for 15-20 minutes, four times a day for several days.
- Compression: Wrap your knee with an elastic bandage or compress it with the help of stockings to minimize the swelling and offer support.
- Elevation: Elevate your knee above heart level to decrease swelling and pain.
After the RICE treatment, your doctor may suggest that you wear a sling, cast or brace to immobilize the knee joint and prevent it from further movement until complete healing. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed to decrease pain and swelling. Physical therapy includes range of motion exercises such as strengthening and stretching exercises, which help to regain the normal functioning of the knee.
Read Also: Roller Knee Walker
Grade Iii: Severe Sprain
This is a complete tear of the ligament. Its considered a serious injury that needs immediate care. Athletes with grade III sprains may need surgery to go back to sports.
A completely torn ligament often causes these symptoms :
- Pain, swelling, and stiffness.
- A feeling like the knee gives out.
Severe sprains take months to heal. The recovery time depends on the lifestyle of the patient. It can take from 4 to 18 months.
Treatment For A Knee Strain Or Sprain
Many patients can self-treat knee strain or sprain with rest, ice, compression, elevation and anti-inflammatory medication. If the pain is moderate to severe, your physician may require you to wear a brace over the knee to provide stability. More advanced knee strains or sprains can be treated with the following treatments:
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation physical therapy is crucial to help strengthen the knee after a strain or sprain your physical therapist will work with you to gradually add exercises that will help restore mobility in the knee.
- PRP therapy PRP therapy for knee strains or sprains is a newer therapy where your orthopedic physician will remove a blood sample from the patient, put the blood in a centrifuge to separate out the platelets and then inject them back into the patient at the affected site in the knee.
Read Also: Nano Knee Surgery Cost
Visit The Urgency Room To Treat Your Knee Sprain
If you suffered a nasty knee sprain or if one of your kids hurt their knee, come visit us at the Urgency Room and have one of our experienced physicians treat the injury. We have three convenient locations in Woodbury, Vadnais Heights and Eagan. By coming to the Urgency Room, you wont have to sit in the waiting room for long while your knee sprain gets worse. Wait times at the Urgency Room are usually under 15 minutes and you can check out live waiting room times at each location here. By checking the wait time before you arrive, youll avoid an unexpected lengthy visit, such as is often the case when you seek treatment at the ER.
Each Urgency Room is owned and operated by the Emergency Physicians Professional Association and is staffed with highly qualified and experienced physicians, nurses and medical technicians. Check out our comprehensive medical services offered when you need it most. Each location is open 365 days per year, including holidays, from 8 A.M. to 10 P.M.
Loading Comments. Please Wait…
Types Of Knee Sprains Strains & Tears
Doctors at NYU Langone diagnose and manage all types of knee sprains, strains, and tears.
The knee is the largest joint in the body. It consists of ligaments, bones, cartilage, and tendons. Four ligaments, which are tough cords of tissue, connect the thigh bone, or femur, to the lower leg bones, called the tibia and fibula. These ligaments keep the knee stable when a person walks, jumps, bends, or pivots.
In between the femur and tibia is a thick layer of smooth cartilage called the meniscus. This tissue, which is molded to the shape of your bones, helps the knee absorb and distribute body weight during movement. Tendons anchor muscle to bone.
Many knee injuries occur during athletic activitiesparticularly contact sports, such as soccer and football. But everyday mishaps, such as twisting your knee as you step off a curb, may also cause an injury.
You May Like: Knees Crack When Doing Squats
Do The Price Protocol
This protocol can reduce pain and swelling in fresh injuries. PRICE is an acronym for:
- Protect. Avoid further injury on the affected knee. This will reduce the risk of reinjury as well.
- Rest. After a knee sprain, your ligaments wont stabilize the joint as usual. Resting gives them time to heal.
- Ice. Cold temperatures can decrease pain in some people. Just put an ice pack on the injured area, 2-3 times per day, 10 minutes at a time.
- Compression. The pressure will reduce swelling. Do this by wrapping the knee joint with an elastic bandage. It shouldnt be too tight, though, or else you compromise your bloodflow.
- Elevation. Elevate the injured knee above your heart. Do this several times per day. Gravity will reduce inflammation for you.
How To Treat Knee Sprains
A knee sprain is not an ideal diagnosis because it does not tell you which ligament is injured or how severely it is injured. If you suspect that you have a knee sprain, consult a physician to undergo further diagnosis.
Minor knee sprains may heal over time with rest, ice, compression and elevation . Patients can also control pain and inflammation by taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or aspirin. Wearing a brace or compression sleeve for the sprain will also help provide the added stability you need while healing. More serious injuries such as a torn ACL may require surgery and physical therapy.
As with any injury, your doctor will be the best source of advice on the appropriate treatment method for your situation.
Recommended Reading: Cellulite Above Knees