The knee is one of the most critical joints in the body. It enables climbing, walking, and nearly all parts of mobility. When you have a sprain, it can affect your movement. A sprained knee is a common injury, but when does it require a trip to urgent care?
Causes of a Sprained Knee
Your knee contains three bones: the tibia, patella, and femur. Ligaments attach these bones together to allow movement and stabilize the knee.
Sudden movement or trauma can cause your ligaments to stretch too far and tear. Some common causes of a sprained knee include:
A car crash
Landing awkwardly after a fall or jump
Twisting your knee
Changing directions quickly while running
Putting too much pressure on the knee
Most sprained knees result from a tear in just one of the ligaments. When multiple ligaments are involved, treatment and recovery take longer.
Symptoms of a Sprained Knee
You will likely notice the injury immediately when you have a sprained knee. Some symptoms of a sprained knee include:
Bruising around the knee
Difficulty when bending the knee
A limping or altered gait
Instability within your knee
Discomfort or pain
Swelling in the knee
Some people will also feel a snapping sensation in the knee when the ligament tears.
Treating and Diagnosing the Sprained Knee
Your knee injury could be assessed for a sprain in the following ways:
MRI or magnetic resonance imaging provides a clear image of the damaged parts of the knee to show severity of the injury.
A doctor may also use an X-ray to see if there is a torn or stretched ligament causing the sprain. The X-ray will show if there is a broken bone, arthritis, or other causes of knee pain.
Before imaging, your doctor will perform a physical examination to see if you can put weight on the knee and how far you can bend it. They may have you walk across the room, bend your leg while seated, and judge how well you can move your knee.
They may also use an ultrasound to see how badly the soft tissue is damaged.
Treatments for a sprained knee include RICE:
Rest is the first treatment, and it involves not using the knee.
Ice is another method of treatment. You should ice the knee down for 20 minutes several times daily to reduce swelling.
Use compression by wrapping the knee in a soft bandage to stabilize it.
Elevation means you need to keep your knee raised to reduce the swelling.
With a severe knee sprain, you will need to visit an urgent care for the following:
Brace: You may need a knee brace to hold the bones together and keep the knee from moving much while it heals.
NSAIDS: These are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs taken to reduce pain and inflammation.
Physical Therapy: Prescribed exercises to help the sprained knee.
Surgery: When there is severe trauma, your doctor may recommend surgery to repair it. This may include tissues or grafts from cadavers to repair the knee.
Visit ShorePoint Health Emergency & Urgent Care for Sprained Knees
As one of the only health systems in Cape Coral with ER and urgent care services under one roof, ShorePoint Health Emergency & Urgent Care offers affordable pricing, quality care, and trained staff. Patients are only billed based on the level of care received, and no appointments are needed for in-person visits. The ER is available 24 hours a day, and the urgent care walk-in clinic hours of operation are from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.