Knee is the most complex of all joints present in the body. It is the active joint without which human being will find difficult to walk. It also bears the weight of upper body. Considering its active role, knee sprain and strain is a common problem. Knee sprain is a type of injury where the ligaments are overstretched and hurt. Ligaments of knee joint are bands of tissue which keep the bones of lower leg and upper leg aligned and well connected. They provide stability to knee.
There are 4 ligaments in knee.Knee sprain occurs when any or all the ligaments are overstretched or torn. In majority of cases it is a microscopic tear of ligament fibers. The knee can get sprained as a result of sudden force or sudden twisting. Soon after knee sprain, the person may experience pain, swelling and restricted range of movement.
Most knee sprains are treated conservatively. Rest, ice fomentation, knee brace, and gradual rehabilitation exercises help the healing of damaged ligament. Depending on the severity, knee sprain may take 2 weeks to 12 months to heal. In mild to moderate injury, the healing time frame may be 2 to 4 weeks.Severe knee sprain injury may take 4 to 12 months to heal.
Causes Of Sprained Knee
Knee sprain is often caused due to an abnormal leg movement. These movements can occur while playing sports. A sudden twist at the knee joint while planting the foot on the ground can damage the ligaments of knee. This may also happen with sudden stoppage when you are running.
Sudden change of direction of leg while landing after a jump can twist and damage the knee ligaments. Sudden and sharp over-extension of knee can also result in knee sprain. People playing certain sport such as football, basketball, skiing etc are vulnerable to knee sprain injury.
A knock or a direct hit on the knee from any side can cause knee sprain. Falling on knees in an awkward direction can sprain the knees. It is often seen among football players when they tackle the ball.
Symptoms Of Sprained Knee Ligaments
Before knowing the symptoms, it is essential to understand the 4 ligaments which balance the knee. The two ligaments are cruciate ligaments, anterior and posterior ligaments. At the sides there are two ligaments, lateral and medial ligaments. All the four ligaments work together to keep a balance and stability, besides protecting the knee joint.
Depending on the severity and the type of injured ligament, knee sprain is graded in 3 varieties. Grade 1 is when there is microscopic damage to the fibers. Grade 2 is when there is macroscopic damage to the ligament fibers. Grade 3 is complete tear of the ligament.
- Pain is the prominent symptom when any of these four ligaments are damaged.
- Patient may feel a sudden pop at the time of injury. It is significant when anterior cruciate ligament is damaged.
- Often there is bruising and swelling around the knee joint.
- The skin around knee becomes blue or black in color.
- The range of knee movement is restricted.
- The knee joint becomes unstable and patient may find difficulty in standing on the affected leg.
Natural Remedies For Sprained Knee
Soon after knee sprain the knee should be immobilized. Giving rest to the affected leg invariably helps quick healing. Patient is advised to avoid putting pressure on the leg. He should avoid walking on the affected leg.
- Ice fomentation during first few hours of injury helps to reduce pain and swelling.
- Compression bandage is essential as it gives support to the affected knee and provides stability. However, patient should not wrap the bandage too tightly so as to hamper blood circulation.
- Keeping the leg elevated helps to reduce swelling.
- Anti inflammatory and analgesics are useful in reducing acute pain and swelling.
- Knee brace is used once the acute symptoms are alleviated. It is meant to provide knee stability.
After a two weeks or as recommended by the physician, rehabilitation exercises are begun. This will depend on the improvement of the symptoms. Physical therapy helps to increase strength, flexibility and range of movement.
Healing Time For Sprained Knee Ligaments
There are several factors that may be taken into account for the expected healing period. It may depend on the severity of injury. The types of sports which may have caused the injury and the rehabilitation therapy thereafter are essential factors to determine the healing time. Normally, a grade 1 knee sprain may heal within 2 to 4 weeks. Grade 2 injuries may take 3 to 4 weeks period for improving pain and stability. Grade 3 knee sprain where the damage is enormous may take 4 to 12 months to heal.