How to Treat a Knee Sprain

Knee injuries can be problematic if they aren’t properly treated. In this interesting article, discover how to treat a knee sprain!
How to Treat a Knee Sprain

Last update: 23 February, 2021

A knee sprain should be treated like any other sprain. You have to follow the treatment to the letter to avoid complications.

Below, we’ll briefly describe what a knee sprain is. Then, we’ll analyze the best way to treat this condition that’s very common in the world of sports.

What’s a sprain?

A sprain is an injury to a ligament. The function of ligaments is to ensure the stability of joints. They also control movement patterns, preventing anatomical structures from going out of their range. Thus, they help stabilize and prevent injuries.

A movement that makes a ligament overstretch causes a sprain. In other words, it occurs due to a fast or abrupt movement that doesn’t allow the ligament to contain the joint. When the ligament reacts and returns to its place, the damage is already done.

In fact, a sprain can even lead to a ligament tear. In these cases, the applied force is so strong that the ligament fibers rupture.

Since all the joints of the body have ligaments, sprains can occur anywhere. In this article, we’re going to focus on knee ligaments.

A man with a knee injury.

General treatment of a knee sprain

As with other sprains, you should treat a knee sprain as soon as possible. As soon as the injury occurs, you should try to limit its damage. For this purpose, you need to apply cold and compress and elevate the area. This way, you limit the resulting bruise and contain the swelling.

In addition to these measures, you’ll also have to rest during the first 48 hours after the injury. Unlike muscles, ligaments need to rest in order to recover. In other words, the more you rest, the faster you’ll recover. Therefore, you have to rest for as long as your doctor tells you to, according to the degree of injury you’ve suffered.

After the first 48 hours, start applying heat. Likewise, you can go see a physical therapist, who’ll apply ultrasound or other physical means at their disposal.

Once the injury allows you to train again, start exercises to restore proprioception. In other words, exercises that work on balance. As a publication in the journal Physiotherapy states, these exercises activate the ligaments. Likewise, muscle strengthening is important, as the injury also affects it.

As a study published by the journal EMC – Kinesiotherapy – Physical Medicine states, you need to return to normal life little by little, especially if you play sports. In this regard, you must gradually increase the load and make movements in controlled environments repeatedly before performing in a competition.

The keys to recovering from a knee sprain

Summarizing everything we mentioned above, the goal of treatment is to:

  • Make sure that the ligament fully recovers.
  • Retrain the injured ligament to ensure necessary resistance and reaction time.
  • Have strong muscles so that they can withstand great efforts without overly depending on ligaments.
  • Mckenzie exercises should be done with the guidance of a professional.

The four ligaments

On the other hand, we need to highlight that the knee has four ligaments: the anterior cruciate, posterior cruciate, medial collateral, and lateral collateral. Generally speaking, the treatment is similar for all four.

The difference lies in where you’ll need to apply cold in the initial stages and the type of exercises you’ll do in the final stages. For the cruciate ligaments, you should focus on braking exercises. For the collateral ligaments, you should focus on zigzag movements.

A full recovery

The bright side is that, after treating a knee sprain, you’ll most likely be able to make a full recovery. Grade 3 sprains are more likely to have lasting effects, since the damage is such that they require surgery.

However, even in these cases, a full recovery is likely. You just have to have patience and follow your doctor’s recommendations.

This last point is key, whatever the grade of the sprain. It’s important for you to be fully recovered before you start playing sports again. Otherwise, your injury could become chronic, leading to discomfort. If this happens, it’ll limit you a lot more than if you had simply waited a few days.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • L. López, I. Rodríguez y A. Palacios. Prevención de esguinces de tobillo en jugadoras de baloncesto amateur mediante programas de propiocepción. Estudio piloto de casos-controles. Fisioterapia. Volume 37, Issue 5, September–October 2015, Pages 212-222
  • Lustig, E. Servien, S. Parratte et al. Lesiones ligamentosas recientes de la rodilla del adulto. EMC – Aparato Locomotor. Vol. 46, Issue 2, Pp 1-19 (2013)
  • Fabri, F. Lacaze, T. Marc et al. Rehabilitación de los esguinces de rodilla: tratamiento funcional. EMC – Kinesiterapia – Medicina Física. Vol. 29, Issue 3, Pp 1-23 (2008)

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.