When someone sprains their knee, many people will say that it’s a good thing it wasn’t a break, because that would hurt a lot more. Did you know that sometimes a sprain can hurt just as much, even more, than a broken bone? Just because it’s only a sprain doesn’t mean that it isn’t painful and swollen, and although it may not be broken, but it’s still pretty difficult to walk on it, at least for the first few days.
What is a Knee Sprain?
Basically, a knee sprain is an injury of one of the ligaments in the knee. Most of the time, knee sprains are caused by a fall or by hitting the knee against something, and many knee sprains are caused by twisting the knee in the wrong way, which is pretty easy to do. Knee sprains need to be properly treated so they do not to cause problems in the future.
Treatment for Knee Sprains
There are many cases where a sprained knee can be as swollen and painful as a break, so one of the first things to do is to immediately ice the swollen area. Next, the injured person should visit the nearest emergency room for x-rays to make sure that there are no fractures in the joint or kneecap. Once a sprain has been diagnosed, the physician will recommend the RICE treatment (Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate).
Rest: Of course, most movements, especially walking, are going to cause pain and irritate a sprained knee, so it is important that the injured person rest the leg as much as possible. Walking should be kept to a minimum, at least for a few days, until there is little to no pain during walking.
Ice: For the first two or three days following a knee sprain, it is important to keep the injured area iced in order to reduce swelling. Ice packs should be used four or five times each day, for about 20 minutes to a time. For an ice pack that doesn’t leak, try soaking a sponge, then placing it in a zip lock bag. When it thaws, the water will be absorbed by the sponge, and won’t leak all over the place.
Compress: In order to help reduce swelling and immobilize the leg somewhat, the sprained knee should be wrapped with an elastic bandage. The best way to put one on is to start below the knee, and wrap up, in a criss-cross motion. Remember not to wrap it too tightly; you don’t want to cut off circulation.
Elevate: It is important to keep the injured knee elevated as much as possible to relieve pain. When the leg is higher than the heart, which can be done just by propping it up with a few pillows, it helps to decrease blood flow, which will help to keep the swelling down.
Many physicians will also recommend that those with knee sprains take an anti-inflammatory medication, such as Ibuprofen. After a few days, the ice treatment should stop and heat should be used to ease stiffness and bring back the flexibility. After a week or so, the injured person should be up and about, going about his or her normal routines.