Knee sprains are injuries to the ligaments located in the knee joint area and can be resolved by knee sprain treatment. The severity of the sprained knee is dependent on which ligaments have been damaged. While the majority of knee issues involve the anterior cruciate ligament, up to 20% of all knee sprains involve the posterior cruciate ligament.
Symptoms of a knee sprain generally include the following signs: swelling, bruising, pain, and an inability to walk or put pressure on the joint. In addition, when the injury occurs, a patient may hear an audible pop that could indicate a ligament tear. With most cases, patients experience a feeling to the knee “giving out” and may find that the joint locks in place.
The most common cause of a knee joint sprain is an abnormal movement that causes over-extension or tearing of the ligaments. Many sports and athletic activities are responsible for these types of injuries. Soccer, basketball, volleyball, and skiing are some sports in which athletes frequently sprain their knees. Any activity that requires rapid change of direction or jumping is likely to cause a problem. Many of these injuries occur when one foot is firmly planted on the ground and the rest of the body turns in a different direction, thus twisting the ligaments of the knee and resulting in hyper-extension or tears. Additionally, these injuries can be the result of trauma or impact to the knee such as those that occur when a person falls or is involved in an automobile accident.
If untreated, sprains of the knee can develop into more serious conditions. When a patient continually puts pressure or attempts to walk, further aggravation to a sprained knee can occur. This can result in the person doing permanent damage to the knee joint or making an easily treatable injury become one that needs surgery.
As previously mentioned, the method of treatment differs depending on the affected ligament. Prevention is important and any athlete that regularly engages in high risk activities should take care to stretch properly before they begin the activity. For injuries of the medial collateral ligament, knee sprain recovery is usually swift and requires no additional medical treatment beyond the RICE method. This method includes a coordination of rest, ice, compression, and elevation. For more serious injuries, knee sprain recovery may take a longer time and more complex procedures. In many cases, tears or severe over-extension of the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, reconstructive surgery is needed to treat the sprained knee. For injuries involving the posterior cruciate ligament, or PCL, the severity will guide the best treatment option. Most problems are able to be resolved without medical intervention, but more serious cases may require surgery to fix the issue. Knee sprain treatment research is ongoing as physicians find new and better ways to treat these common problems.