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Knee sprain


A knee sprain consists of damage to the ligaments that ensure the stability of the knee joint and usually is a result of trauma. It causes instability of the joint, which is no longer supported by the affected ligaments: either the outer and inner ligaments or the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments. A knee sprain often hinders walking, and otherwise interferes in the pursuit of various activities. A knee sprain can be mild or severe. Its recovery is usually long, and complications can be identified.


The main symptoms of a knee sprain are:
  • immediate pain at time of injury, persisting when the affected knee is used;
  • functional ineptitude, difficulty or inability to move the knee;
  • edema or swelling of the knee;
  • occasionally, a hematoma;
  • a "cracking" feeling at the time of the trauma, suspect of a ligament rupture;
  • a sense of dislocation of suspected cruciate ligament damage.


To determine the type and severity of the sprain, it is essential to know the mechanism of injury. To do this, the doctor needs to know what position the patient was in at time of injury. Clinical examination is then performed, which includes tests of various ligament maneuvers and comparing both knees. These tests can be supplemented by radiology to help point to the existence of a joint displacement or fracture, but X-rays do not show the ligaments. Depending on the clinical suspicion of a torn ligament, an MRI is sometimes performed to confirm a ligament rupture.


In the case of a mild sprain, outpatient (non-hospital) treatment is sufficient. It consists of:
  • resting the knee;
  • placing a splint on it for a few days;
  • using anti-inflammatory drugs or analgesics;
  • putting ice packs on the painful joint;
  • rehabilitation sessions given by a physiotherapist as needed.

In the case of a rupture of ligaments, surgical reconstruction of the cruciate ligaments may be performed and then followed up by physiotherapy. If there is a meniscus injury, surgery may be also considered. Whatever the type of knee sprain, any immobilization in a pubescent individual requires the prescription of preventive treatment against thrombosis.


It is essential to wear shoes suitable for the physical activity performed. Similarly, a preliminary warm-up and adequate hydration are essential for any sport.

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