How To Treat Knee Sprains

by Patrick

in Injury Help

A sprained knee can be a huge problem for any athlete. This type of injury is extrememly common in sports like football and basketball where quick changes in direction are a pivotal part of the game. A knee sprain is often caused by a twist of the upper leg while the foot is firmly planted on the ground, or another player simply falls on your leg at a strange angle. However it happened, you want it gone. Here’s how.

Taking care of a sprained knee, or any joint, requires four simple steps. A friend taught me the simple acronym R-I-C-E to help me remember the steps required for treating a sprain. Those four steps are rest, ice, compression, and elevation. You can always use this acronym for future reference if you happen to get hurt again.

Let’s get down to the steps.

  • Rest – This is a pretty obvious one, but it is also one of, if not the most important step of the R-I-C-E sequence. It is important that you keep as much stress off of your knee as possible during the healing phase. If you try to walk around before you’re completely healed you run a high risk of re-injuring the joint. If you want to test your knee, take a seat and try to move your leg around at the knee joint to see if there is any pain.
  • Ice – So far, I’ve mentioned ice in all of my sprain/injury articles. Ice is important for reducing the swelling of your knee as well as reducing the pain that comes along with a sprain. Use the 20/40 rule for ice. 20 minutes of ice applied, followed by 40 minutes without ice each hour.
  • Compression – Believe it or not, putting a bit of pressure on a sprained joint like the knee can help reduce the pain. The reason for this is that the pressure helps provide extra support for the joint and keeps it from moving in any unusual or painful directions. I would recommend picking up a knee wrap/brace if you don’t already have one. If you watch the NBA a lot, you’ll actually notice that a lot of the players have compression sleeves around their knees. This can really help prevent further knee sprain complications.
  • Elevation – This one is the same as the rule used when you have a sprained ankle. Raising the injured knee up in the air a bit will help reduce the swelling while simultaneously reducing pain. Just make sure your leg is solidly supported so it doesn’t move or fall from the raised position.

Of course, you can always throw in some medication like Ibuprofen to reduce pain and swelling even more. But for those of you who aren’t big fans of pills, just stick to the tips above. Also, remember that your joints will probably get pretty stiff by the end of your recovery period since you haven’t moved them much. Try sitting in a hot bath for a while to help loosen yourself up. This will make it much easier to get back to your normal state in a short period of time.

Hope this helps a bit, and best of luck with your recovery.

  • raffy garcia

    Dear friend,

    Is it okey if putting some ice on my knee the day after my enjury?I suffered sprain on my left knee.

    thank you very much..


  • admin

    Yes Raffy, it’s okay to put ice on your knee the day after. It helps the most if you put it on right away, but putting it on the day after won’t hurt anything.

  • Jenny

    Hi I have a question, I have hyper-mobile patella’s in both my knees . One of my knees is prone to slipping out of place and getting sprained easily. I am a very active person and love to hike, swim and so on but, lately I have found this a little difficult due to the nature of my knee. Can You suggest any way to strengthen my knees up so they wont do that.
    thank you

  • Patrick

    Hey Jenny,

    I would try doing some light leg curls, leg extensions, and squats. You should only do the squats with your bodyweight. Also, you should not try to squat down any farther than parallel to the floor. The squats are mainly meant to put a little a bit of extra stress on your knees to toughen them up…you don’t need to try to be a powerlifter. If they hurt too much, stop doing them immediately.

    Leg curls and leg extensions will help strengthen the supporting muscles around your knees. Do a quick google search for them to find some video demonstrations. You can also wear a brace on your knees (commonly referred to as a knee sleeve) like basketball players wear. They add support to your knees without impeding your mobility.

  • Tony

    i sprained my inner left knee i think, because that is the part the still hurts about a month and half ago. is it normal to still have alot of swelling in the knee so long after the injury? or could it be something else. i´m a basketball player and this injury has me still in pain and i can´t move my knee really well after a month and a half. thanks.

  • Patrick

    Hey Tony, it’s a bit strange that you still have swelling after almost 6 weeks. It should have gone done considerably by now. Are you continuing to play basketball? If you are, you’re probably just prolonging the injury. Knee problems can take a while to resolve themselves since the knee is such a heavily used part of the body.

    I would recommend wearing a compression sleeve over your knee to give it a little extra support. This should also help with the pain. You should also put ice on your knee to keep the swelling down. And as always, rest your injury as much as possible! The more you try to force your body to work, the longer the injury will last. Hope this helps a bit.

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