Sprained knee, Types of ligaments, symptoms and treatment

Knee sprain usually refers to overstretched or, in some cases, even torn out ligament. If you look deeper, knee sprain is explained as a condition when you have an injury in one of the ligaments present around the knee joints. If you have sprained knees, there is an injury in the ligament or structure in the knee joint that connects thigh bone to shiny bone. A knee sprain may seem not a big issue, but it is excruciating and can lead to other problems in later ages like arthritis.

A ligament is that structure that makes a connection between two bones. Ligaments are essential in providing stability to knee joints and make their movement easy. So, the ligaments allow a controlled movement of the knee. The ligaments like colorectal prevent an excessive slide to slide motion, and cruciate ligaments are vital for rotational or back and forth action.

The crucial thing to understand here is the term that is often confused sprain and strain. There is clarity needed to address these terms as these are referred to as two different conditions. A sprain occurs due to injury in the ligament, and strain is the term related to the injury in muscles. Muscles and ligaments may seem similar, but they are responsible for different functions in the human body.

Types of ligaments:

There are many ligaments that provides support and stability to the knee but if we talk about the ligaments which are responsible for providing stability, that is four major ones, but some small ligaments also cause pain. These four ligaments work in pairs, two of them are to stabilize back, and front and the other two are to ensure side to side movement.

The four specific ligaments that are responsible for knee sprain are:

1: Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)

2: Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL)

3: Lateral collateral ligament (LCL)

4: Medial collateral ligament (MCL)

The Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) ligaments are responsible for providing stability when it comes to the front and back movements. These two are present, forming the shape of X and providing support and stability to the joint.

The Lateral collateral ligament (LCL) is present outside the knee and runs along with it, this structure provides stability from the outside, and the Medial collateral ligament (MCL) runs inside the knee.

Classification or grading system:

To make the study easier medical professionals use the grading system to diagnose and treat the severity and complexity of sprain.

Knee sprains classified to a grading system:

The grading system is based on the severity of the sprain and the treatment and recovery depends on it.

Grade I:(Mild)

The grade I is a mild sprain. This injury occurs if the patient has overstretched ligament, and there is a microscopic tear. As the name indicates, it is a mild type of issue and does not have any significant effect on the knee. The ligament has still had the stability to support the joint and body weight.

Grade II: (Moderate)

Grade II is referred to as a moderate sprain in this injury; the condition gets a little more intense as the ligament partially torn. Thus, the ligament loses its integrity, and in this case, it is not able to provide any support. The knee is unstable, and there is a lot of pain. The person has problems standing and walking.

Grade III :(Severe)

In this grade, as it is clear, it is the most severe type of sprain. In this injury, the ligament is completely torn, or it gets separated from the bone. The knee becomes unstable and loses its function entirely and provides no support or motion. The sweeping and nursing are seen and get severe. Walking or standing becomes really difficult or sometimes even completely impossible.

Sprained knee symptoms:

Sprained knee symptoms may be different, and it surely depends on the factor that which of the ligament is get damaged, and it varies from person to person. Like for example, if the injury occurs in the collateral ligament, the knee buckle, and pop, and this causes pain and swelling. Likewise, if the injury is in the cruciate ligament, a person hears a popping sound in which the injury occurs, and swelling usually lasts for 24-36 hours. In a study by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, they mention that MCL injury causes inside pain and if the pain in on the outside is due to LCL.

Common symptoms are:

  1. A pop noises
  2. Displacement of knee
  3. Swelling and redness on the place of injury
  4. Intense pain
  5. Deformed joint
  6. Issue or difficulty in movement

Specific ligament symptoms:

ACL Sprain:

  • You will see a visible pop inside your knee at the moment of injury
  • After the injury, significant knee swelling can be observed even within an hour
  • You find discoloration (Blue or black)
  • Knee pain is uncontrolled
  • Knee instability and makes you unable to stand and walk

PCL Sprain:

  • A mild issue in moving a standing
  • Mild swelling in the knee.
  • Knee instability Might not be evident
  • Mild pain in the kneel that get bad at some times

MCL Sprain:

  • Pain and Swelling in Knee
  • Buckling of knee toward the outside
  • At the outer side of the knee tenderness over the torn MCL.

LCL Sprain:

  • Pain and Swelling in Knee
  • Buckling of knee toward the inside
  • At the outer side of the knee tenderness over the torn LCL.

An ACL injury will be involving more than one ligament sprain. So, if one ligament gets injured, others also face the pain. For example, as the MCL works in coordination with ACL and helps the ligament from different types of forces, ACL also gets injured when something happens to MCL. It is mostly the increase chances of ACL injury if MCL get sprain. Knee sprain can often occur, and as compared to all the ligaments, ACL cause more evident symptoms than other ligaments like MCL.

Sprained knee treatment:

As consulting the doctor may take some time, there must be some immediate treatments that you do at that time.

How to heal a sprained knee:

A sprained knee causes severe pain and swelling, and sometimes it becomes unbearable. This instance RICE method is beneficial; it will help full in reducing the pain until you get proper medical treatment. The RICE method helps to provide stability and reduction in pain. The process includes:

R: Rest:

Take immediate rest; this will help to reduce the chance of further damage. Taking rest will help your injury to get better and you will feel less pain.

I: Ice:

A cool compress or ice in a towel with fifteen minutes of the interval is beneficial to avoid skin damage and reduce the pain and swelling.

C: Compression:

If you have elasticized bandage available, it is good to wrap it around as it can provide little compression suitable for joints, but do not wrap the bandage too tight it will worsen the situation.

E: Elevate:

To prevent the blood pooling at the site of injury, which causes swelling, the knee must be elevated with the help of the pillow od any soft object. As if blood rush to the injury swelling get increased and thus cause more pain.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs:

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories medicines that are safe to use, such as ibuprofen, may be given in severe cases like to the athlete, thus to reducing swelling.

This is like the first aid you can provide but to get a proper medical check-up and follow the instructions.

Medical Treatment:

The treatment of the sprained depends on the severity of the injury, its type, and part of the damaged knee. So, let’s discuss some of the methods on how to treat a sprained knee:

1: Rest:

After the injury, avoid any kind of movement and any activity the causing stress on your knee and an increase in pain. Add a pillow to your leg to make it higher than your heart while sitting or lying; this will reduce the pain and swelling.

2: Medication:

Medication is prescribed by the doctors to treat the pain. Medicines like acetaminophen are generally recommended to relieve the pain. If the pain is elevating the doctor may suggest a strong medication. Always take medicines by the prescription of your doctor.

3: Ice Treatment:

Ice is best to work for the swelling and pain. Treat your knee with ice for 15-20 minutes after few hours can decrease the pain and swelling. Be cautious if you have diabetes for this treatment; ask your doctor first. The ice is beneficial in this regard; you can feel a significant decrease in pain.

4: Immobilization:

In severe cases, the doctor may give a brace to provide support and protection to your knee. This is really helpful in providing support while moving to reduce the chance of overstretching.

5: Physical therapy or exercise:

A physical therapist suggests some daily activities that will help reduce the pain and heal the wound soon. People generally ask about How to heal a sprained knee quickly; exercise is undoubtedly helpful in this regard. Some of the recommended exercises are:

  • Thigh strengthening and leg lifts
  • Razing or bending your knees
  • Stretches especially for thigh and calf

6: Surgery:

When the ligament is torn, then the possible solution is the surgery. In this process, the torn ligament is reattached or sometimes replaced with the healthy one. This is the last step to be taken and it is the last possible solution.

How long does a sprained knee take to heal?

The injured knee hinders our daily activities. Knee sprain is a sensitive matter and has to be taken care of properly. It is essential to take proper rest and take effective measures so that healing is done correctly.

When someone gets the knee sprain and is unable to walk or move freely, the first thing they ask is how much time it takes to heal. Well, the recovery depended on the fact of how severe the sprain is and, most obviously, the type of sprain.

Mild to moderate sprain recovers in mostly 2-3 weeks, but if the sprain is severe, it can take up to months. People with surgeries can take even more time. Let’s have a look at the Grades to get a better understanding of the recovery time:

The grades of a ligament tear are:

Grade I: As this is a mild or minor injury, this will recover only with rest and activity modifications, and it takes time of 1-2 weeks.

Grade II: This moderate injury, including partial tearing, will require some time for healing of ligament that takes s up to 4-6 weeks for recovery.

Grade III: As this a complete or near-complete tear of the ligament. As the damage is very severe, it needed much time for recovery and rehabilitation.

People with ACL injuries got 80-90 percent of recoveries, and the same is the case with PCL; the ratio is 80 percent who are fully received. But people who suffered this type of injury have a great chance of developing arthritis in later ages. In the case of MCL and LCL, the recovery is quite impressive. At this time, physical therapists suggest exercises to make muscles strong and provides strength. There has to follow for 6-10 months, at least.

Exercising and prevention the situation that will harm your knee will be helpful in quick recovery. Before starting your normal routine, try to do it step by step and gradually. As our keen bears the body weight and makes our movement possible, be cautious while recovery gives it proper time and care. In this regard getting proper medical help and follow the prescription is significant. People should follow the advice of the doctor and do not ignore it. Please give proper time to your knee to heal and avoid any aggressive activity like playing or supports; otherwise, you have to face the consequences. If you walk carelessly there will be increased chances to have the injury again and this time it will be worse.


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