A knee sprain is stretching or tearing of the ligaments that support the knee. Ligaments are strong bands of tissue that hold bones to each other.
A knee sprain is when a force pushes the bones of the knee apart. If the force is strong enough, the ligament comes apart. This can happen from things like:
Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:
Problems may be:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. You will also be asked how the injury happened. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the knee.
It can be hard to tell a sprain from a fracture or dislocation. Pictures may be taken. This can be done with:
The doctor may need to view the inside of the knee. This can be done with a minimally invasive procedure called an arthroscopy.
Treatment will depend on the joint and how severe the injury is. The goal of treatment is to ease pain and improve movement. Choices are:
Some people may need surgery to repair a ligament that is torn.
Most sprains are due to accidents. They cannot always be prevented. The risk may be lowered by:
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
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Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Teresa Briedwell, PT, DPT Last Updated: 6/4/2021