by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
A knee sprain is the stretching or tearing of ligaments that support the knee. Ligaments are strong bands of tissue that connect bones to each other.
Knee sprains may be caused by:
Factors that may increase your chance of developing a knee sprain include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and how the injury occurred. The knee will be checked for stability and pain.
Images may be taken of your knee. This can be done with:
A minimally invasive procedure may be done to look inside of your knee. This is called an arthroscopy.
Knee sprains are graded according to their severity.
Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation
The RICE method may help reduce discomfort and swelling:
Medication may help to manage discomfort. Options include:
Crutches may be needed to keep pressure off of the knee.
A brace may be recommended. Some may keep the knee from moving at all. Other braces may allow some movement and provide support when returning to activities. Braces are not advised for children.
Exercises may be advised to to help restore flexibility, range of motion, and strength. You may be referred to a physical therapist.
Surgery may be needed if a ligament is torn completely.
To reduce the risk of knee sprains:
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
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Last reviewed May 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Laura Lei-Rivera, PT, DPT, GCS
Last Updated: 2/7/2018
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