What is knee sprain and how to treat

Knee sprain, also known as knee sprain, occurs due to excessive stretching of the knee ligaments that in some cases end up breaking, causing severe pain and swelling.

This can happen during the practice of some sports, due to the execution of sudden movements or due to an injury caused by the impact of an object with the knee. The treatment consists of rest, application of ice and compression on the site, however, in more severe cases, it may be necessary to resort to surgery.

What symptoms

Signs and symptoms of a knee sprain include:

  • Severe knee pain;
  • Swollen knee;
  • Difficulty bending the knee and supporting the weight of the body on the affected leg.

In some cases, a noise can be heard at the time of the injury, and in some situations, a small hemorrhage may occur inside the joint, turning the area purple or blue.

Possible causes

In young people, knee sprain occurs more frequently during physical exercise, in sports such as basketball, football, tennis, volleyball or gymnastics, for example, when something hits the knee from the outside, when there is a sudden change of direction, when the body turns on the supported foot or when it lands with a sudden jump. In these cases, abnormal rotation of the femur in relation to the tibia may occur, leading to excessive stretching of the ligaments and meniscus, and rupture of these ligaments may occur. In the elderly, the torsion can happen due to a sudden change in walking, as it can happen when crossing the street, for example.

How the diagnosis is made

The diagnosis of knee sprain must be made by the doctor and consists of a physical examination that assesses the movement, swelling and sensitivity of the knee in relation to the healthy one. If necessary, diagnostic methods such as X-rays, magnetic resonance or ultrasound can also be used to assess whether ligaments, menisci and tendons have ruptured or become severely compromised.

Treatment for knee sprain

The treatment starts with rest, avoiding putting your foot on the floor as much as possible, so as not to put weight on the knee. For this, the leg must remain elevated and for people to move, crutches can be used. The ideal is to lie down with the leg elevated, so that the knee is higher than the height of the heart, to help deflate the knee faster.

During the rest period, ice packs can be applied to the knee for about 20-30 minutes every 2 hours, and the application interval should increase over the days. Elastic stockings or compression bandages should be used to immobilize the knee for about 5-7 days, and the doctor may recommend analgesics and anti-inflammatories for pain relief.

After the immobilization is removed, it is important to do 10-20 physiotherapy sessions to help recover movement, strength and balance, using electronic equipment, such as ultrasound and TENS, in addition to joint mobilization techniques and stretching and muscle strengthening exercises.

In some cases it may be necessary to have surgery, especially if the person is young or an athlete who wants to continue playing sports. In addition, it is also advised in situations where the injury compromises day-to-day activities or where the injury is very serious.

The recovery time depends a lot on the severity of the torsion, but generally athletes can return to playing sport about 3-6 months after the injury, but this will depend on the severity of the injury and the type of treatment performed. Athletes who perform daily physical therapy sessions recover faster.

When there is a rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament, another type of treatment is recommended. Check out what can be done in physiotherapy for ACL rupture.