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How To Know If You Sprained Your Knee

What Is A Knee Strain Or Sprain

Knee sprain or ACL injury: How to tell the difference

A knee strain occurs when a muscle or tendon is torn or stretched. The tendons are fibrous cords that connect muscles to bones.

A knee sprain occurs when the ligaments in the knee joint stretch or tear. Ligaments connect the bones of your lower leg to the bones in your thigh together in your knee joints.

Diagnosis Of A Knee Strain Or Sprain

Diagnosing a knee sprain or strain is challenging due to the complexity of the knee. Your physician will perform a variety of physical tests, as well as take a full medical history, to determine the exact cause and location of the injury.

A patient could have multiple knee injuries at one time, so your doctor may order an x-ray or MRI. These imaging modalities will be able to identify what is causing the symptoms and help the provider determine the best treatment for your case.

What Does Mcl Sprain Feel Like

MCL injuries hurt. Most people feel pain along the inside edge of the knee, and they also have swelling. You might hear a pop when the damage to the knee takes place, and your knee may lurch to the side. You may find it hard to walk, or feel like you cant put pressure on the leg with the hurt knee.

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Different Types Of Knee Sprains

  • Grade 1- The ligament in your Knee is either slightly stretched or mildly hurt. You can still put weight on your Knee, but activities will be limited to how much pain youre in.
  • Grade 2- This is when the ligament is stretched out to the point where a potential tear in the Knee can occur. You will not be able to put any weight on your Knee often based on how much damage has already happened.
  • Grade 3- At this point, the ligament is in a complete tear and split into two pieces. The Knee joint is very unstable, and you will not be able to put any weight on it, and it can be excruciating to move at all.

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You Notice An Obvious Deformity

Dislocated Kneecap

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.

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The Collateral Knee Ligaments

These are the medial collateral ligament and the lateral collateral ligament . They are on each side of the knee, limiting side-to-side movements.

Medial collateral ligament

This ligament is on the inner side of the joint. It can sprain if the knee bends inward suddenly. Like after changing directions while running.

Symptoms include tenderness and swelling in the area. It can also be painful to walk. Some people may feel knee instability as well.

Lateral collateral ligament

This ligament is on the outer side of the knee. This sprain often happens after a direct blow on the inner side of the knee with the leg straight. Symptoms are like an MCL sprain but on the outside of the knee.

How Is A Knee Sprain Diagnosed

Your healthcare provider will ask about your injury and examine you. Tell him or her if you heard a snap or pop when you were injured. Your provider will check the movement and strength of your joint. You may be asked to move the joint. You may also need any of the following:

  • An x-ray, CT scan or MRI may show the sprain or other damage. You may be given contrast liquid to help your injury show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.
  • Arthroscopy is a procedure to look inside your joint with a scope. The scope is a long tube with a magnifying glass, a camera, and a light on the end.

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When Will I Feel Better After A Knee Ligament Injury

Your recovery time will depend on how bad the injury is. People also heal at different rates.

In most cases, physical therapy can help to limit problems and speed up your recovery. If you have an ACL tear, your doctor may recommend this after surgery.


While you recover, if your medical team agrees, you could take up a new activity that won’t hurt your knee. For instance, runners could try swimming.

Whatever you do, don’t rush things. You shouldnt go back to your old level of physical activity until:

  • Your doctor says its OK for you to take part.
  • You can fully bend and straighten the knee without pain.
  • The knee doesnt hurt when you walk, jog, sprint, or jump.
  • Its no longer swollen.
  • The injured knee is as strong as the uninjured knee.

If you start to use your knee before it’s healed, you could cause permanent damage.

Treatment For A Knee Strain Or Sprain

Knee 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.

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Applying Additional Treatment Methods

  • 1Apply heat after 72 hours. After you have taken care of your leg with the P.R.I.C.E. method for 48 â 72 hours, you can begin to incorporate a few additional treatments that will help your knee pain and swelling get better. Use a heating pad or hot compress on your knee to alleviate stiffness and pain. Apply heat for 20 minutes, four times per day or as needed. This will help loosen up the muscles in your knee that you have been resting for the three days prior to heating it.XResearch source
  • You can also apply heat to your knee in a sauna, whirlpool, hot bath, or hot tub.
  • Do not heat before 72 hours have passed. You will actually do more harm than good if you heat too soon. The increased blood flow in your knee while it is still initially healing can cause it to bleed or swell more.
  • 2Take oral pain medication. While you are healing, over the counter pain medication can help you manage the pain involved. You can take ibuprofen or acetaminophen for the pain if you experience any that is too much for you to handle without drugs.XResearch source
  • Try common brands of ibuprofen such as Advil and Motrin and brands of acetaminophen such as Tylenol.
  • You can also take anti-inflammatory medications such as naproxen. You can buy it over the counter in such brands as Aleve.
  • Ask your doctor for prescription anti-inflammatory medication, if the pain and swelling in your knee lingers longer than a week.
  • What Are The Symptoms Of A Knee Sprain

    The following are sprained knee symptoms:

    • Pain around the affected area
    • Swelling around the sprained section of the knee
    • Knee instability, leading to your knee buckling under the pressure of your weight
    • Bruising, moderate to severe, depending on the sprain
    • A popping sound when the injury occurs
    • Stiffness and decreased movement due to pain
    • Limited to no range of motion
    • Depending on which ligament you injure, your symptoms could differ.

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    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.

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    Going To Physical Therapy

    How to Tell if You Strained Your Knee

    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.

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    How To Treat A Sprained Knee

    To determine if you have a knee sprain, your physician will ask you for a complete medical history, have you describe your symptoms and how the knee injury occurred and conduct a physical examination. An X-ray or MRI may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis and determine if there are other problems.

    The fastest way to heal a knee sprain is rest. Treatment will depend on your lifestyle. If youre an athlete the treatment may be surgery, to get you back in the game. However, people whose lifestyles dont include high impact activities often can go a route that avoids surgery such as physical therapy or resting the injury at home.

    Sprained knee treatment options vary. In most cases, you wont need surgery. An ACL tear is the most likely ligament to need surgery.

    If surgery is necessary, it will be done arthroscopically, which means there will be a few small incisions made and it will minimize your hospital visit and recovery time.

    Do Tendon Tears Heal On Their Own

    It is unlikely that a tendon injury will heal on its own without proper care. Tendons do not have a rich blood supply like muscles and thus may take more care and time to heal.

    Most minor strains can be managed at home however, more severe injuries involving significant tears in the tendon fibers may need hospitalization.

    The treatment of tendon tears may also vary depending upon the site of the injury, the persons general health, and any underlying conditions they may have and may include:

    • Rest: Adequate rest coupled with the cessation of any activities that may worsen the symptoms is important.
    • Giving rest to the affected site helps in faster recovery and prevents worsening of the injury.
    • If, however, a person cannot completely avoid certain activities, they may be reduced in intensity and frequency if the treating doctor permits.
    • In some cases, the doctor may apply a cast or splint to immobilize the ruptured tendon.
  • Ice packs: The application of ice packs helps relieve pain and swelling.
  • Do not apply ice directly to the skin. Use ice packs or ice wrapped in a soft towel.
  • Avoid the application of ice packs for more than 20 minutes at a time.
  • Compression and elevation: Tendon injuries may result in significant swelling.
  • The swelling may worsen with time leading to worsening of the symptoms.
  • You may apply a bandage around the affected site to reduce swelling and take your providers help to know how tight the bandage should be.
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    Causes Of Knee Sprain

    Some of the common causes of a knee sprain include forceful twisting of the knee, suddenly stopping while running, direct blow to the knee, and a fall that results in landing on your knees. The factors that increase the risk of knee sprain include participation in sports activities such as skiing, poor coordination, poor balance, and inadequate flexibility and strength in your muscles and ligaments.

    Surgical And Other Procedures

    Have You Torn or Strained a Ligament in Your Knee? How to Tell

    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.

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    Other Treatment Options For Knee Sprain

    RICE Therapy: If you have suffered a sprained knee, it is important to allow a period of rest to allow the knee to heal. For mild to moderate sprains, doctors recommend RICE therapy. This includes R , I , C , and E .

    Pain Medications: You can use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. They provide short-term relief of pain and swelling. These drugs can help reduce symptoms and allow you to begin a rehabilitation exercise program. This is important to strengthen and stabilize the knee and prevent you from injuring it again.2

    Bracing: Sometimes doctors recommend wearing a knee brace for a short period. This takes the load off the ligaments and supports the knee while it heals.2

    Surgery: A torn ligament sometimes needs surgical repair. This can usually be done with a minimally-invasive approach called arthroscopy. A tiny camera is inserted into the joint to guide the surgeon in repairing the ligament.2

    What Causes A Knee Sprain

    A sudden twisting of the knee joint may cause a knee sprain. This may happen when you run, jump, and land, or stop or change direction suddenly. Knee sprains commonly occur during physical activity but can occasionally happen at other times. Physical activities that place pressure on your knee joints and ligaments are the most likely to cause a sprain. Common activities for knee sprains include football, basketball, hockey, skiing, and wrestling.

    Direct hits to the knee may also cause a sprain. Sprains may be caused by hits to the front, sides, or back of the knee. This type of sprain can happen with an unexpected tumble or a bump into a metal object, wall, or strong piece of furniture. If you fall while your knee is bent, for instance, falling down the stairs or slipping on a piece of ice, a sprain can occur. Car accidents are another situation where knee sprains occur, as your legs are bent while driving or riding in a car.

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    Surgery Is Not The Best

    How to tell if you tore your acl after surgery. How do you tell if acl is torn or sprained? Mri is the best study to diagnose an acl injury. The signs and symptoms of an acl tear include a loud pop, severe pain, rapid swelling, instability, and difficulty with walking or standing.

    In fact, people near you may even be able to hear it. Firmly hold the thigh in place, and with the knee bent 90 degrees, firmly pull the lower leg forward. How to tell if you tore your acl?

    There are also knee braces available that can be used to help support a dogs torn acl without need for surgery. If the lower leg freely moves forward much more than the other without a firm endpoint, this may indicate an acl tear. If any of them sound familiar, you should be seen by an orthopedic surgeon.

    This can be due to technical failure with the treatment or other circumstances, sources told. Within the first two hours after injury, your knee will swell, and you may have a buckling sensation in the knee during twisting movements. It only hurt for about 15 seconds, i didnt have any pain after that.

    Wearing an acl brace can help prevent injury to the anterior cruciate ligament or help support your knee after an acl tear or injury. Symptoms of an acl tear: A good physical exam can indicate an acl tear:

    The same test in opposite direction. Also i dont think it swelled at all. You now know some of the signs associated with an acl tear.

    You feel pain while bending knee.

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