Have you recently felt a twinge of pain in your knee during activity? You may be wondering what caused the pain. You may have heard of ankle sprains, but can you twist your knee?
In this blog post, we will take a look at knee sprains, what to expect when you have one, and how to prevent them from happening again.
Our Knee Joint
To understand this situation, we first have to learn about the knee’s overall structure.
The knee joint is formed by the shin bone (tibia) and thigh bone (femur) in the lower leg. The back of the thigh bone is capped by a flat triangular bone called the patella. The patella protects the knee joint and helps to move the leg.
The knee joint has four main ligaments:
– The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) crosses in the middle of the knee joint from the back of the femur to the front of the tibia. It prevents the tibia from moving too far forward.
– The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) runs from the back of the tibia to the front of the femur. It prevents the tibia from moving too far backward.
– The medial collateral ligament (MCL) runs along the inside edge of the knee joint from the femur to the tibia. It prevents the knee from bending too far inward.
– The lateral collateral ligament (LCL) runs along the outside edge of the knee joint from the femur to the fibula (a bone in the lower leg). It prevents the knee from bending too far outward.
The ACL and PCL (cruciate ligaments) are located in the middle of the knee joint, while the MCL and LCL (collateral ligaments) are on either side of it. All four ligaments work together to keep the knee stable.
The knee joint is also surrounded by a tough membrane called the capsule, which is lined with a lubricating substance called synovial fluid. This fluid helps to reduce friction and makes it possible for the knee joint to move smoothly. However, the knee joint is also susceptible to minor and major injuries like a knee sprain or a “twisted knee”.
What’s a Knee Sprain?
A knee sprain is the type of injury that occurs when one or multiple of the main ligaments in the knee is twisted or stretched beyond its normal range of motion.
The most common type of knee sprain occurs when the foot is planted awkwardly and the knee is twisted either inwardly or a direct blow to the outside of the knee occurs. This can stretch or tear the medial collateral ligament (MCL), which runs along the inside of the knee.
Another type of knee sprain is a lateral collateral ligament (LCL) sprain. This can happen if the knee gives out, when your foot is planted, toward the outside of the knee or if a direct blow to the inside of the leg occurs.
A more severe knee sprain can occur when the foot is suddenly changed direction while the rest of the body continues moving forward. This can stretch or tear the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), located in the middle of the knee, or the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), located on the outside of the knee.
Knee sprains can range from mild to severe, and treatment will vary depending on the extent of the injury to the major ligaments or the cruciate ligaments.
Causes of Knee Sprain
Severe sprains can occur when the ligaments that support your knee joint are overstretched or torn. This can happen if you fall hard on your knee, have a car accident, or participate in contact sports. A sprained knee can be very painful and make it difficult to move your leg.
The most common cause of a knee sprain is an awkward landing from a jump, a sudden change in direction, or a direct blow to the knee. Other causes can include:
– Wearing high heels that put extra strain on the tendons and ligaments around the knee joint
– Having flat feet or abnormal foot structure that puts extra strain on the knee joint
– Weakness in the muscles that support the knee joint
Symptoms of a Knee Sprain
Symptoms of a knee sprain can include:
- and difficulty walking.
If the knee sprain is severe, the knee may feel unstable and give way when trying to bear weight.
Knee sprains are classified based on the severity of the injury, with grade 1 being the least severe and grade 3 being the most severe, and indicative of a complete tear of the ligament.
Most Common Knee Injuries
Other than knee sprain, there are a number of different types of knee injuries that can occur, ranging from relatively minor to more serious tears and ligament damage.
One of the most common knee injuries is meniscal tears, which occur when the cartilage between the bones in the knee is damaged. This can be caused by a sudden impact or twisting motion, and can often be extremely painful.
Other common knee injuries include torn ligaments like an ACL tear (which can occur during sports or other activities that involve sudden changes in direction), and patella dislocations (when the kneecap slips out of place).
While some of these, like ACL injuries, may require surgery to repair, others can often be treated with a combination of rest, ice, and physical therapy.
Diagnosing Your Injury
Diagnosing what exactly occurred when you twist your knee can be difficult, as the symptoms are often similar to those of other knee injuries. However, a physical examination, MRI, and medical history are usually enough to rule out other conditions and confirm the diagnosis.
A knee sprain is a very common injury, especially for athletes. The good news is that there are a variety of treatment options available that can help you heal and get back to your normal activities.
- One of the most important things you can do is to see a physical therapist. In physical therapy, they will develop a custom treatment plan for you that may include exercises, stretches, and various modalities like electrical stimulation to improve your range of motion and overall function.
- It’s also important to wear a knee brace when engaging in activities that put stress on the knee particularly if you are acutely healing or struggling with confidence in your joint.
- An ice pack can also help to reduce pain and swelling.
- Finally, over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen can be helpful in managing pain and reducing inflammation.
By following these simple steps, you can get on the road to recovery from a knee sprain.
Be Careful with Your Knees
As people age, they often start to experience greater knee pain. This is because the joints and ligaments become weaker and less able to support the weight of the body. As a result, it becomes easier to sprain or strain the knee, which can lead to pain and swelling.
Weakening of the knees can also make it more difficult to recover from an injury, as the joint becomes less stable. Therefore, it’s essential to be careful with your knees and avoid activities that may put them at any undue risk.
If you have any concerns, consult with your healthcare provider to see if there are any exercises or treatments that can help reduce the risk of knee problems.