Knee pain can be quite excruciating, and any damage to the knee can have you laid up for weeks. The knee is one of the most important joints in our bodies as it takes a lot of the impact brought on by our daily life.
One of the most painful is a knee sprain. In fact, this injury can have a lasting effect on your overall knee health (see more on this at the Feel Good Knees website).
So, we are going to take an in-depth look at knee sprains — what they are, what causes them, and much more.
Knee Sprain – Definition and Types
A knee sprain occurs when you have torn or overstretched tendons. This means that the structures inside the knee joint that joins the thigh and shin bone have been damaged. A knee sprain is agonizing and can lead to further problems, including joint inflammation or even arthritis.
The knee has four fundamental tendons: two that balance the anterior and posterior, and two that balance it laterally. Knee sprains are named for the particular tendon that has been affected:
ACL/PCL: These are the ligaments that balance the knee from the anterior or posterior regions. They are constructed in the form of an X.
LCL: This is the tendon that balances the knee on the outside of the leg.
MCL: This is the counterpart to the LCL and affects balance from the inside of the leg.
How Can You Tell If You Have A Sprained Knee?
Contingent upon which tendon was sprained, you may encounter various symptoms. You may hear a snap at the time of injury and feel your knee buckle. This typically indicates an ACL sprain.
In the event of a PCL sprain, the back of your knee may suffer from some pain, and that pain may increase if you bend it.
When your knee buckles away from the damaged tendon, it could be an indication of an LCL or PCL sprain. There will probably be increased sensitivity where the actual injury occurred.
Many people with knee sprains will suffer from one or more of the following:
Ways Knee Sprains Occur
Any action that moves your knee out of its normal position can cause a sprain.
When you are active in high-impact activities like soccer or running, your ACL may be prone to strain. For the most part, this is because of sudden extreme movements associated with these activities. It can likewise happen if your knee is struck while fully extended or laid out at an odd angle.
If the front of your knee is hit while it’s twisted, you can sprain your PCL. Falling hard on your knee can likewise have the same effect.
Another way you can sprain your knee is to receive a sharp hit on the inside of your knee, which would affect the LCL. This is rarer than any of the other sprains because typically, this part of your knee is protected by the other leg.
Getting struck from the outside of your leg, or a fall that makes your lower leg turn outward from your thigh can cause a sprain of your MCL.
Treatments for Knee Sprains
The treatment your physician prescribes will rely upon the seriousness of the damage and the type of sprain you have experienced.
A specialist may prescribe over-the-counter pain medication like aspirin or ibuprofen. In the event that the pain is so severe that it is incapacitating, the doctor may suggest a more potent medication.
You’ll need to abstain from activities that put too much stress on your injured knee and can exacerbate the problem further. While at rest, you should keep your leg propped up to get it higher than your heart to help decrease the swelling.
Using a cold pack on the knee for 20 minutes at regular intervals can help with swelling as well. If you have diabetes, make sure to check with your doctor before using this method, though. The cold pack can also relieve pain, reduce any swelling, and prevent any bleeding inside the joint.
A flexible bandage can likewise help with the swelling, yet be sure not to wrap your knee too tight as this could limit blood flow to that area and cause more damage. If the wrap is too tight, it could exacerbate the pain, numbness could occur, or your lower leg could swell. If that is the case, simply loosen the wrap.
A specialist may give you a support brace to secure your knee and make sure it stays in a set position while it repairs itself. This will prevent you from moving it to an extreme position or over-extending it.
A specialist may suggest exercises depending on the degree of your damage and where you are in your recuperation. These may include:
- Leg lifts
- Bending your knees
- Limited weight training
The last resort is always surgery. If the tear is bad enough, it may need to be repaired by surgical intervention. With this method, you will have several weeks of recovery and perhaps even rehab.
No matter what treatment you are prescribed, you have fully recovered from a knee sprain when the pain and swelling have gone, and you can easily move your knee. Typically, with milder sprains, the recovery time can be anywhere from two to four weeks. Those in need of surgery will be looking at a longer recovery time which also includes physical therapy.
Since your knees bear your body weight and contribute to how well you move around (learn more at the Feel Good Knees website), ensure you take the appropriate steps to address a knee sprain. Consulting a physician early and adhering to their directions is vitally important.
While most knee sprains will resolve without surgery, stay away from the impulse to return to your regular activities without giving your knee a chance to mend totally. Not doing so can cause serious issues later on.