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Knee Injuries: Knee Sprain Symptoms and Treatment

by / Friday, 04 May 2012 / Published in Injury, Knee Injury

Knee Injuries: Knee Sprain

What is a knee sprain?

A violent overstretching of one or more ligaments in the knee. Sprains involving two or more ligaments cause considerably more disability than single-ligament sprains. When the ligament is overstretched, it becomes tense and gives way at it’s weakest point, either where it attaches to bone or within the ligament itself. If the ligament pulls loose a fragment of bone, it is called an avulsion fracture. The injury, usually a strain, occurs at the weakest part of the unit.

How do you prevent knee sprains?

Knee sprains can be prevented or greatly reduced by properly stretching and warming up the knee prior to any physical activity, practice or competition. The athlete should participate in a strength and conditioning program appropriate for their sport. Conditioning of the connective tissue (ligaments and tendons) can greatly reduce the incidence of injury. Tape (use knee braces) on vulnerable joints before practice or competition. Wear protective shoes. A twist or injury to the foot/ankle can affect the knee. It must also be understood that the rate of strengthening of connective tissue lags behind the rate of strengthening of muscle. Therefore the training program should consist of work involving low weight and high repetitions for 3 to 4 weeks at the beginning of a strength and conditioning program to begin the strengthening process of connecting tissue before muscle strength is increased.

What types of knee sprains are there?

Knee sprains are of three types;

  1. A mild or (grade I) sprain, Tearing of some ligament fibers. There is no loss of function.
  2. A moderate or (grade II) sprain, which is a rupture of a portion of the ligament, resulting in some loss of function
  3. A severe or (grade III sprain), which is a complete rupture of the ligament or complete separation of ligament from bone. There is a total loss of function. A severe sprain may require surgical repair.

What muscles are involved in a knee sprain?

The specific body parts involved are any of the many ligaments in the knee, the tissue surrounding the sprain, including blood vessels, tendons, bone, periosteum (covering of bone) and muscles.

How do I know if I’ve sprained my knee?

The signs and symptoms of a knee sprain are: (1) severe pain at the time of injury (2) A feeling of popping or tearing inside the knee (3) swelling over the injury(effusion) (4) Tenderness at the injury site(5) Giving away of the weakened knee joint. (6) Bruising that appears soon after the injury.

Am I at risk for knee sprains?

The risk of sustaining a knee sprain increases with contact sports, sports that require running, jumping and/or explosive changes of direction. Obesity, poor nutrition, previous knee injury or poor muscle conditioning also increase the risk. The likelihood of sustaining a knee sprain can be decreased by participating in a strengthening, flexibility and conditioning program appropriate for your sport or athletic activity, by adequately warming up before practice or competition and by using proper protective equipment, such as knee braces and ankle braces with the proper shoes(high tops), during participation in contact sports.

What is the proper care for a knee sprain?

The appropriate health care for a knee sprain is a doctor’s care, application of tape, cast or an elastic bandage. Your own self-care during rehabilitation, proper physical therapy (for moderate or severe sprain), or surgery for a severe sprain/ligament rupture. The condition is most commonly diagnosed through your own observation of symptoms, your medical history and exam by a doctor and x-rays of the knee, hip and ankle to rule out fractures. MRI(Magnetic Resonance Imaging) to identify meniscal cartilage tear.

Are there any complications with knee sprains?

Some possible complications can be (1) prolonged healing time if activity is resumed too soon, (2) proneness to repeated injury, (3) inflammation at the attachment to bone (periostitis); or sometimes, prolonged disability. (4) Unstable or arthritic knee following repeated injury. With a first-time injury, proper care and sufficient healing time before resuming activity should prevent permanent disability.

How long does a knee sprain take to heal?

The average healing times are: (1) mild sprains – 2 to 6 weeks, (2) moderate sprain — 6 to 8 weeks, (3) severe sprains — 8 weeks to 10 months. The complications listed above are more likely to occur in the case of repeated injuries.

What treatment should I use for a knee sprain?

Treatment should consist of following your doctor’s instructions. Some supplemental first aids are the “R.I.C.E.” instructions: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation (if possible). The doctor usually applies a splint from the ankle to the groin to immobilize the sprained knee. It is helpful, as continuing care, to use an ice pack 3 or 4 times a day for 20 minutes at a time. Place ice chips or cubes in a plastic bag. Wrap the bag in a moist towel, and place it over the injured knee. After the first 72 hours, apply heat instead of ice if it feels better. Use heat lamps, hot soaks, showers, heating pads or heat liniments and ointments. Take whirlpool treatments, if available. Massage gently and often to provide comfort and decrease swelling.

What medications, if any, are recommended?

Medication for minor discomfort can be nonprescription medicines such as aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Topical liniments and ointments can be used. Your doctor may prescribe stronger pain relievers or even an injection of a long-acting local anesthetic to reduce pain. General anesthetic for surgery or arthroscopy of the knee joint.

What activity is proper during rehabilitation and recovery?

Begin daily rehabilitation exercises when the cast or supportive wrapping is no longer necessary. You can begin daily rehabilitation exercises when the cast or supportive wrapping is no longer needed and with the blessing of your doctor. Use ice massage for 10 minutes before and after exercise. Fill a large styrofoam cup with water and freeze. Tear a small amount of the foam from the top so the ice protrudes. Massage firmly over the injured area in a circle about the size of a softball.

Call your Doctor if:

Be certain to call your doctor if you have symptoms of a moderate or severe elbow sprain or a mild sprain persist longer than 2 weeks. Call your doctor if pain or swelling worsens despite treatment or if either of the following occurs with casting or splinting, tight bracing or taping: Pain, numbness or coldness below the injury, dusky, blue or grey toenails. Call your doctor if any of the following occurs after surgery: Increased pain, swelling, redness, drainage or bleeding in the surgical area. Call your doctor if you notice any signs of infection (headache, muscle aches, dizziness or a general ill feeling with fever)or if any new, unexplained symptoms develop. Drugs used in treatment may produce side effects.

How does the Bodyguard™ knee brace reduce knee sprains?

The Bodyguard™ Open Patella Knee Brace (OPKB) is a protective device that delivers compression, mechanical support, musculoskeletal heat circulation, strain distribution and impact absorption. The Bodyguard™ Open Patella Knee Brace is designed to attach to and stabilize the entire knee complex. It also raises muscle and tissue temperature and maintains it to promote increased blood flow and promote healing. It absorbs and distributes strain on the musculature and connective tissue of the entire knee complex including the distal thigh and proximal calf musculature. It is extremely efficient as a prophylactic device to reduce injuries and as a rehabilitative device to protect and promote the healing of an injured knee during the full rehabilitation process.

The Bodyguard™ Compression Knee Brace is designed to add comfort, stability and performance enhancement to the sprained or bruised knee. In the uninjured knee it reduces the incidents of knee sprains/strains and bruises from impact trauma, while adding stability and performance enhancement. As with all Bodyguards it provides compression, support, muscle and tendon heat circulation, strain distribution and impact absorption

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