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Knee Sprain: Treatment, Recovery Period, Braces, Alternative Therapy

Treatment for Knee Sprain

You must immediately call a doctor for treatment after you see following signs and symptoms of knee sprain:

  • Knee pain or swelling
  • Not able to bear your own weight
  • Feeling of knee buckling or knee giving out.

For treating Grade 1 or Grade 2 knee sprain, the doctor recommends to follow RICE rule, that is:

Treatment for Knee Sprain

  1. Rest: Give rest to the sprained knee joint
  2. Ice: Apply a cold pack or ice on the sprained knee
  3. Compress: Apply elastic bandage to compress the swelling associated with knee sprain
  4. Elevate: Lift the injured knee

You may also require to wear a knee brace to support your sprained knee for some days and take anti-inflammatory drugs- NSAIDs like Ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin etc.. After a few days when the knee sprain subsides, you will be advised to go through a rehabilitation program that will help in stabilizing and strengthening of the knee joint in order to prevent further injury.

The patients with Grade 3 knee sprain may have multiple injuries and the treatment depends on following types of knee sprain:

  • Treatment for Grade 3 Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) or Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Knee Sprain: The torn ligament is reconstructed by surgery by autograft (using own tissue) or allograft (using donor tissue). These reconstructions are generally camera-guided.
  • Treatment for Grade 3 Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Knee Sprain: The treatment of this type of injury includes RICE and using NSAIDs.
  • Treatment for Grade 3 Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) Knee Sprain: The torn ligament in severe LCL knee sprain is sewn surgically.
  • Treatment for Injury to Multiple Ligaments Simultaneously: It includes various surgical operations.

Treatment Summary for Knee Sprain

For grade 1 and 2 knee sprains, the treatment usually is the same; however severe injuries take longer time for healing. Grade 3 knee sprain usually require surgery as they are harder to treat, especially if they involve other injuries.[1]

  • RICE (Rest, Ice, Elevate and Compress) application helps in decreasing the pain, swelling and bruising associated with knee sprain.
  • Crutches can be used for support and to reduce the burden on the sprained knee until pain subsides.
  • Anti-Inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen help to ease the pain associated with knee sprain.
  • Knee braces can be worn for support and to avoid knee pain and instability.
  • Mobility exercises can be started once pain decreases such as gently bending the knee as far as is comfortable.
  • Ultrasound or massage can be done for the torn knee ligament to heal.
  • Mobility exercises should be continued.
  • Full weight bearing should be started as soon as possible.
  • To prevent loss of muscle mass, strengthening exercises such as straight leg raises and contracting the quad and hamstring muscles should be done.
  • Balance exercises with a wobble board are also beneficial for early recovery of knee sprain.
  • If the knee sprain is severe and the knee continues to give out despite using all the above measures, then surgery is recommended.

Alternative Therapies for Knee Sprain

There are certain alternative therapies for knee sprain that may help in restoring the damaged tissue, minimize swelling, and provide relief in pain.

  1. Nutrients and Supplements for Knee Sprain

    The following nutrients and supplements can help in proper recovery from a knee sprain:

    • Vitamin C Supplements: Beta-carotene and vitamin C help in creating connective tissue in the body and also reduce knee pain caused by knee sprain.
    • Zinc Supplements: It helps in faster healing of the knee sprain.
    • Glucosamine and Chondroitin Supplements: They are most commonly used supplements in osteoarthritis that help in the rebuilding of connective tissue of the knee joint. According to some researchers they may also heal wounds faster.[2]
  2. Use of Herbs as an Alternative Therapy for Knee Sprain

    Herbs provide strength to the body system and also tone them. But, you must consult with your doctor before starting any herbal therapy for knee sprain. It is advisable to use herbs and dried extracts like teas, capsules, and powders, or glycerine extract (glycerite), and alcohol extract (tincture). Another option is to make tea using 1 tablespoon of herb for one cup of water. If you are using leaves or flowers then cover it for 5 to 10 mins, or if you are using herbs then 10 to 20 mins. Take 2 to 4 cups of tea a day. Tinctures can either be used separately or in combination.

    Other herbs that may be helpful are White willow (Salix alba), Turmeric (Curcuma longa), and Aescin (Aesculus hippocastanum).

  3. Homeopathy as an Alternative Therapy for a Treating Knee Sprain

    The effectiveness of homeopathic remedies in treating knee sprain has been examined by few studies. Some of the professional homeopathic specialists recommend the following treatment procedures for sprains according to their knowledge and experience. The homeopaths begin with determining the constitutional type of the patient, his/her physical, mental, and intellectual makeup. After the examination the next step involves assessment of all of these. Finally a medicine is recommended such as Traumeel, Ledum, Arnica (internal), Bryonia, Rhus toxicodendron, Ruta, etc.

  4. Acupuncture as an Alternative Therapy for Treating Knee Sprain

    Acupuncture is proven to improve knee sprains and strains. According to a study involving 20 persons showed that acupuncture can improve soreness in a knee sprain. However, some studies showed no benefit. The most commonly used technique by Acupuncturists is moxibustion, a method that involves burning of herb mugwort is over particular acupuncture points. This technique is companied with needling in order to support or strengthen the knee sprain treatment.

  5. Chiropractic Care as an Alternative Therapy for Knee Sprain

    Many people may also visit chiropractors for a knee sprain. Chiropractors treat knee sprains with the help of ice, heat, ultrasound technique, or electrical stimulation of muscles. They also recommend knee exercise of stretching and strengthening for fast recovery. A recent study of balance training program showed reduction in the risk of knee sprains among soccer and basketball players.

    A study compared chiropractic techniques with other anti-inflammatory medications and proved that they work well in improving pain and increasing flexibility. It worked well than any other medication in bringing improvement in range of motion.[3]

  6. Massage Therapy as an Alternative Treatment for Knee Sprain

    Therapeutic massage can hugely benefit the sufferers of knee sprain. Therapeutic massage helps in increasing circulation and relieving spasms in affected surrounding muscles of the knee joint.

Braces for Knee Sprain

To provide different levels of support for knee sprain, knee braces can be altered in different ways. Knee braces come in a variety of materials and vary in price largely for sprained knee. Use of braces, walking aids, and shoe inserts help you to move easily as they take some of the stress away from the knee joints.

Treatment for Knee Sprain

  • A brace around your knee joint helps in the redistribution of weight by taking some of the pressure from the knee joint. They are particularly useful along with other treatments such as medication and physical therapy (PT). You can also use a splint or a soft sleeve to provide extra support to sprained knee joints.
  • Wedge- an orthotic device can be placed inside the shoe to improve imbalances of the knee joint.
  • Another option is to use a cane while walking so that it takes some of the weight of your painful hip or knee.

Lastly consult your doctor, occupational therapist, or a physical therapist immediately to bring improvement and movement soon to your knee sprain.[4]

Recovery Period for a Knee Sprain

How Much Time Does a Knee Sprain Takes to Heal?

The recovery time for a sprained knee depends on the intensity of the sprain. However, you can speed up your recovery by resting the sprained knee as much as possible. You can also use ice packs on the cast or splints to relieve pain and swelling associated with knee sprain.

The duration of healing of the sprained knee depends upon the type of knee sprain, its severity, type of physical activity, and your rehabilitation program. Milder injuries, i.e. Grade 1 and Grade 2 knee sprain heal within two to four weeks. But, severe injuries may take about 4 to 12 months.[5]


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:September 7, 2020

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