The knee is sprained when one or more ligament is stretched, partially torn or fully torn. These ligaments hold the knee bones in place and injury can easily be to more than one ligament.
CAUSES OF KNEE SPRAIN
A sprain can be from a direct blow to the front, side or back of the knee, or from sudden stopping twisting or wrenching movements. Another reason can be straightening the knee joint beyond its normal extension, or bending the knee joint more then it wants to bend. Weak thigh muscles can also contribute to knee injury as strong thigh muscles will take strain and force which will help protect the knee. Also the knee is vulnerable to overuse, which will cause knee pain gradually over time.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF A KNEE SPRAIN
At the time of injury a ‘pop’ or ‘snap’ may be heard. There will be knee pain and maybe swelling, and sometimes discoloration of the skin. The knee will loose function as in not being able to bend or straighten and walking will be difficult and painful. The RICE procedure should be followed.
HEALING AND RECOVERY
Here is some help for knee pain. Immobilize the leg and elevate. This will enable blood and fluid to drain away and help reduce swelling, and also help relieve knee pain. Apply ice for 15 minutes periodically for the first 24hours. Crush the ice finely to mould around the kneecap and place a towel between ice and injury if skin is sensitive. If no improvement after 24 hours seek medical advice but if pain has subsided and swelling has gone down, the patient can walk with a stick or crutches but no weight to be put on the leg until it is possible to do so without pain.
- Sit on the floor and place the now healed leg straight out with the opposite foot tucked into the thigh. Reach toward the toes until the stretch is felt.
- Laying down face up put you hands on the shin of your leg and bring it towards your chest and you will feel the stretch.
- Lying down, again face up, cross the leg to be stretched over the other leg and again a stretching feeling will be felt.
- You can also stretch whilst standing, put the leg directly behind your other leg, and with your hands at your side slowly lean backwards, and you will feel the stretch in the thigh.
HOW TO PREVENT AND PROTECT YOUR KNEE FROM FURTHER INJURY
After injury the risk of further damage is increased but if exercises and care are taken this will decrease the risk of further injury in the future. Always warm up because this will increase body and muscle temperature. The blood and oxygen will increase around the working muscles and this lubricates the muscles and joints. Make sure stretches are slow and steady, not jerked and rushed. Make a routine of arriving in time for you sport to warm up and stretch adequately. If jumping for a ball or as in gymnastics be sure the knees bend sufficiently on landing.
Protect the knee with a knee brace to support and absorb a direct blow and spread the impact area.