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What is a Knee Sprain?

Knee sprain is a common injury that occurs from overstretching of the ligaments that support the knee joint. A knee sprain occurs when the knee ligaments are twisted or turned beyond its normal range, causing the ligaments to tear.

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.

Symptoms of Knee Sprain

The most common symptoms include pain, swelling, bruising, warmth and redness of the skin, and restricted movements. Pain will occur soon after injury and may increase upon moving the knee.

Diagnosis of a Knee Sprain

Your doctor will evaluate your condition with a physical examination and medical history review. Diagnostic tests such as X-ray and MRI scans may be ordered to confirm the condition.

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.

Prevention of a Knee Sprain

There are a few preventive measures to reduce your risk of a knee sprain.

  • Ensure that you warm up or stretch before starting any physical activity or sports.
  • Ensure that you follow the proper technique for sports and exercises to decrease stress on your muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
  • Make sure that you wear proper protective equipment during sports activities.
  • Take a break from sports when you get tired. 
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