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Sprained Knee: Types, Symptoms, Treatments & Causes

Updated: Apr 25, 2022

What is a sprained knee? It is an injury that occurs due to a partial or total tear of some of the ligaments that are part of the knee and is more common than you can imagine.

Athletes in all kinds of sports suffer from these often. Depending on the severity of the sprain, the injury can be easily treated or can be career ending for some pro-athletes. Diagnosing it early and taking immediate treatment to avoid further complications is fundamental.

Today, we look at the most common types of sprains, what are the symptoms and the possible treatments, which clinics like Miracle Rehab use.

Remember that, even though professional and amateur athletes are more exposed to suffer from these grievances, all of us can suffer from it in our daily lives. A wrong move or fall is all it takes.

Table of Contents

1. What are the most common types of sprains?

2. Knee Sprain Symptoms

3. What are the causes of each type of knee sprain?

4. How to Treat a Sprained Knee?

5. Diagnosis

6. How long does a Sprained Knee take to heal?

7. How to prevent a sprained knee?

8. When to See a Doctor?

What are the most common types of sprains?

The knee uses four main ligaments for lateral, anterior, and posterior stability.

  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL): Provides stability to the front and rear forces exerted by the knee.

  • Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL): It forms an “X” together with the ACL and has the same function.

  • Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL): It is located along the inside of the knee.

  • Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL): Maintains lateral stability and runs along the outside of the knee.

Knee Sprain Symptoms

Knee sprain symptoms appear at the time of injury and are very accurate.

  • Feeling continuous pain, when trying to walk and/or touch.

  • Difficulty walking.

  • Redness and swelling in the affected area

  • Stiffness of the joints decreases the ability to move.

  • A clicking sound can be felt and heard in the joint.

  • Bruising in the area from internal bleeding.

What are the causes of each type of knee sprain?

The most common cause of a sprained ligament in knee usually occurs due to trauma, which can be mild or severe and sometimes comes from other injuries such as menisci.

  • Cruciate ligaments: In addition to the more well-known causes of knee injury such as forceful blows, excessive exercise, changing direction suddenly while walking, running, or jumping, not warming up or wearing protections before playing sports, etc.

There are also cases such as the difference in level between the pelvis and the leg, the effect of estrogens and overextended ligaments.

  • Collateral ligaments: Injury to these ligaments usually occurs at the same time as ACLs. It occurs after an impact on the outside of the knee when the knee is slightly bent. If they are stretched and the force is too great, the fibers are partially or totally broken.

How to Treat a Sprained Knee?

A knee sprain treatment can vary depending on the ligaments that are involved, the severity of the injury, and the needs of the patient.

As an example, we can cite athletes who, depending on the sport they practice, will resort to surgery to return to training as soon as possible.

On the other hand, people with a more sedentary lifestyle or older, perform a slower treatment without entering the operating room.

How to heal a sprained knee


Anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments

Depending on the patient's activities, age and if subsequently reports knee instability, treatment is usually surgical.

Medial and lateral ligaments

In general, ice, anti-inflammatories, rest are indicated and, in some cases, it requires the use of stabilizers such as bandages or knee pads.

On the other hand, there are numerous exercises to recover from a sprained ligament in knee.

Physiotherapy or kinesiology is the most common and effective method to heal these types of injuries. The sessions are made up of proprioception and strengthening exercises.


The specialist, after evaluating the strength, sensitivity, and laxity of the affected area and corroborating the signs of a sprained knee, will proceed with different exercises.

They consist of putting pressure on the knee and bending the leg to detect abnormal movements.

There is also the possibility that the doctor will order X-rays or an MRI to rule out possible injuries to the bones and/or evaluate the damage to the surrounding tissues.

How long does a Sprained Knee take to heal?

The knee sprain recovery time always varies according to the extent of the injury. If it is not treated in time, it may become chronic.

This is the worst case scenario for the patient since they have to deal with this discomfort constantly.

On the other hand, a knee ligament sprain or twisted knee injury is classified into 3 degrees:

  • Grade I sprain: There is a stretch or tear of a few fibers of the ligament. The estimated knee sprain recovery time is 3 to 4 weeks.

  • Grade II sprain: It happens when between one and two-thirds of the fibers of the ligaments are torn. Recovery time is estimated between 4 and 6 weeks.

  • Grade III sprain: This is usually the worst of all and occurs when the ligament is torn. To treat the sprained knee - without surgical intervention - the recovery time can take from 6 to 8 weeks, if the instructions of the specialists are followed.

In some cases, the doctor may prescribe the use of crutches to avoid overloading the twisted knee pain with the weight of the body.

At other times, if surgery is required, it will most likely be arthroscopic.

How to prevent a sprained knee?

When we talk about preventing knee injuries, proprioceptive work is of the utmost importance. which consists of a series of coordination and strength exercises.

This will maintain and improve neuromuscular balance that will help stabilize the knee when it is subjected to certain levels of stress.

These are the kind of exercises that athletes – like Cristiano Ronaldo and LeBron James – do daily and explains why they recover from injuries quicker than others.

People most likely to present symptoms of the sprained knee are those who did not have adequate proprioceptive training.

While sprains cannot be one hundred percent preventable, the following tips will help you take a little better care of yourself.

  • Wear appropriate shoes that provide support and comfort to your feet.

  • When carrying out any physical and/or sports activity, use the appropriate knee protectors to avoid suffering bumps or falls.

  • Controlling body weight is extremely important. Avoid generating stress on the knees when walking or doing other activities that cause overload and wear.

  • Warm-up and stretch your muscles before and after exercising. This will release the tension on the ligaments and bones.

When to See a Doctor?

With conservative treatment, signs of a sprained knee can progress to rapid resolution, while more advanced cases can lead to a long and troublesome recovery.

For this reason and before making a self-diagnosis, you must visit a traumatologist or similar specialist. Remember, the sooner you diagnose and start treatment, the quicker and less painful your recovery will be.

At our Miracle Physical Therapy and Massage Center we offer comprehensive treatments for all types of injuries, including sprained knees.

Our clinics in Warren and Farmington Hills have some of the most competent physicians and personal trainers in the Detroit area to help you recover from sports injuries and sprain rehabilitation.

Progressive rehab will help you heal conditions and improve your quality of life.

Contact Miracle Rehab Clinic and schedule your appointment today!

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