Suspecting a Knee Sprain? What You Should Do

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  • Stop and rest any physical activity when suspecting a knee sprain.
  • Assess damage with a physical exam and X-rays to determine if medical attention is required.
  • Take anti-inflammatory medications to reduce discomfort, apply ice packs/cold compresses, and elevate above waist level to help reduce swelling.
  • Incorporate physical therapy exercises to strengthen muscles around the knee joint.
  • Enhance recovery with nutrition that has anti-inflammatory compounds and protein-rich foods for muscle growth.

Knee sprains, which occur when the ligaments or tendons connecting the knee joint bones are abnormally stretched or torn, can be caused by several factors. Common causes include accidental falls, overexertion during physical activity such as sports, and direct impacts to the knee from traffic accidents. In addition to these mechanical factors, lifestyle choices, including being overweight or having weak muscles around the knee, can also contribute to an increased risk for knee sprains.

The symptoms of a knee sprain vary depending on severity. Still, they may include pain, swelling, tenderness in the affected area, inability to straighten or flex the leg fully, instability within the knee joint, and even bruising or discoloration around it. While minor sprains may heal independently with proper rest and care within a few weeks, more severe ones may require medical intervention.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics show that approximately 2 million people in the United States visit emergency departments annually due to injuries associated with sprains and strains in general. Of those visits, about 200 thousand patients were treated for injuries explicitly related to knee sprains.

A knee sprain can be painful, but you must know what to do once you experience it. Here are a few tips to help you.

Stop and Rest

Person with knee sprain stopping activity

It is important to immediately stop any form of movement or physical activity if you suspect a knee sprain. This will help reduce the risk of further damage and reduce pain and swelling. Resting the affected knee gives the ligaments and tendons time to heal, which can help prevent long-term effects on your range of motion, stability, and strength. Staying off your feet for an extended period may be uncomfortable, but ensuring that your knee heals appropriately is necessary.

When you rest a sprained knee, try to keep it elevated above waist level—this helps reduce swelling and discomfort by allowing gravity to work against the pull of inflammation. Additionally, applying ice packs or cold compresses can help numb the area and minimize inflammation—just make sure not to use them directly on open wounds. Finally, taking anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen can also help reduce discomfort while allowing your muscles and joints time to recover correctly.

Assess Damage

When you experience a knee sprain, it is essential to assess the damage to determine the best course of action. Depending on the severity of the injury, some sprains may require medical attention — such as going to an emergency room or seeing an orthopedic specialist. An accurate diagnosis and evaluation can help prevent further damage or long-term complications from a knee sprain.

In most cases, a physical exam and X-rays are taken to assess any potential ligament damage to determine the need for treatment. Surgical intervention might be necessary if a more serious issue is found, such as a torn ligament or broken bone. Additionally, if there is any suspicion that other parts of your body have been affected by the sprained knee injury — such as tendons in your lower leg or back muscles — then additional imaging tests might be ordered by your doctor.

Furthermore, suppose you have been involved in any trauma that may have led to your sprains, such as a car accident or fall. In that case, getting checked out at an emergency department immediately is essential so that all injuries – including those related to other areas of your body – are appropriately evaluated and treated accordingly.

Knee Recovery

Recovering from a knee sprain

Knee sprains can range from minor and recoverable to more severe and require medical intervention. Regardless of the severity, the importance of proper treatment and recovery cannot be understated. Taking steps to ensure a full and healthy recovery is necessary for immediate pain relief and minimizing long-term effects on the knee joint’s range of motion, stability, and strength. Here are some of the best tactics for recovering from a knee sprain:


The most important step after a knee sprain is rest. Stopping all physical activity or movement will help reduce pain and swelling while allowing damaged ligaments and tendons time to heal. It is essential to elevate the affected leg above waist level when resting—this helps reduce swelling by allowing gravity to work against the pull of inflammation.

Physical Therapy

Once a doctor or specialist has cleared you, physical therapy exercises may be recommended as part of your recovery plan. These exercises focus on strengthening muscles around the knee joint while increasing the range of motion to improve stability and flexibility in the joint. Examples include leg lifts that support hamstring muscles and quadriceps. You can enter a knee sports injury treatment program to help you recover.

Strengthening Muscles Around The Knee

Strengthening muscles around the knee can quickly be done at home with bodyweight exercises such as squats, lunges, step-ups & downstairs, or boxes with one foot at a time; these will increase strength & endurance while helping build stability in your knee’s range of motion & support system (tendons & ligaments).


Nutrition is vital in aiding recovery from a knee sprain; inflamed joints can benefit significantly from anti-inflammatory compounds in certain foods such as turmeric & omega three fatty acids in fish like salmon. Additionally, eating enough protein-rich foods will help support muscle growth throughout your body which can aid problems relating specifically to ligament/tendon tears within your knees due to weakness within these areas.

Final Thoughts

Knee sprains can be painful and require attentive care to ensure a full recovery. By understanding your injury and taking the necessary steps, you can quickly get back on your feet with minimal damage. With these tips, you’ll successfully recover from a knee sprain.

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