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Knee Sprain, Ambulatory Care

A knee sprain

is caused by a stretched or torn ligament in your knee. Ligaments are tough tissues that connect bones. A knee sprain usually occurs during exercise or sports.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • Bruising or changes in skin color
  • Inability to put weight on your leg
  • Pain, tenderness, and swelling
  • Stiffness and decreased knee and leg movement

Seek immediate care for the following symptoms:

  • Cold or numbness below the injury, such as in your toes
  • Decreased or loss of movement in your injured leg
  • Increased pain, even after taking pain medicine

Treatment for a knee sprain

may include a support device, such as a brace. A brace helps limit movement and protect your knee. Treatment may also include pain medicine, physical therapy, or surgery if the ligament does not heal.

Care for a knee sprain:

  • Rest your knee and limit movement for as long as directed. Use crutches as directed to take weight off your knee while it heals.
  • Apply ice on your injured knee for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
  • Compress your injured knee as directed with an elastic bandage or brace to support your foot. Wear your brace for as many days as directed.
  • Elevate your knee by lying down and resting it on pillows that are higher than your heart. This should be done as often as you can to help reduce swelling.
  • Exercise your knee and leg as directed to improve your strength and help decrease stiffness. The exercises and physical therapy can help restore strength and increase the range of motion in your leg. Ask your healthcare provider when you can return to your normal activities or play sports.

Prevent another knee sprain:

  • Warm up and stretch before you exercise.
  • Do not exercise when you are tired or in pain.
  • Wear shoes that fit well and run on flat surfaces to prevent falls.
  • Wear equipment to protect yourself when you play sports.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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