Time It Takes to Heal a Knee Sprain and Ways to Help

Getting a sprain to your knee can be very painful and debilitating. For the first few days, it may even completely knock you off your feet and keep you down. When you sprain your knee, you have overstretched a ligament in your knee and damaged the delicate fibers that help keep things together. It is often caused by forceful movement during sports, work, or falling. If you sustain a sprain, you may wonder how long it takes to completely heal. This article will help you understand what causes this and what it takes to get back on your feet.

How Long Does It Take to Heal from a Knee Sprain?

The exact knee sprain healing time in therapy depends on how bad your injury was and your body. Mild knee sprains usually take around 3 to 6 weeks to heal with therapy. Moderate knee sprains take from 8 to 12 weeks to heal. Here are the details:

Grade I – Grade I will take a few weeks to fully heal. You will notice the strength return to the ligament at around six weeks as the collagen fibers grow back. Make sure you rest from anything that causes you pain, use the ice, and anti-inflammatories if your doctor recommends them.

Grade II – This type of injury takes around six-eight full weeks to heal. You will most likely have to wear a brace when bearing weight on the knee and use a support tape. These things will keep you from over-flexing the knee joint. Your doctor will most likely allow you to return to light duties once your ligament is stable and can hold the joint without pain. You may be sent for physical therapy where they do massage, exercises and electrical stimulation to the muscles.

Grade III – The doctor will most likely place you in a brace that has hinged to protect your joint from additional stress while healing. This type of injury usually takes around 3 to 4 months to heal.

What Can Be Done to Promote Healing?

In order to shorten the knee sprain healing time, there are a few things you can do to help. You need to follow a treatment plan and take care of yourself. Immediate recovery begins around 24 to 48 hours after the injury, so it is important to use the "RICE" protocol early on. Here is how to treat a sprained knee:

Treat Initial Swelling (24 to 48 hours after injury)

Immediately after the injury, get ice on the injury to reduce the swelling. Talk to your doctor about taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory.

If you have severe swelling and pain during your knee sprain healing time, make sure you consult with your doctor. You may need further imaging (MRI, X-Ray) to make sure there are no major injuries to the knee.

If you take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory, make sure you check the box for side-effects including stomach pain and nausea. Anti-inflammatories should always be taken with food to protect your stomach.

Rehabilitation (72 hours to six weeks or more)

Your doctor will monitor your swelling and pain for a few days to even a week or two. Once you have reached a point where you can begin exercise, your doctor will allow you to progress to stage two of treatment. This will help reduce your knee sprain healing time.

Pointing the toes and straightening the leg, and bending the knee up and down. If you are still having acute swelling and severe pain, the doctor may have you hold off a few more days. Below is the exercise recommended by NHS:

Range-of-motion exercises can actually be very helpful to increase blood flow, healing, reduce stiffness, and swelling. This portion usually lasts for the first two weeks after your injury, some may be ready for weight bearing exercise sooner and some may take longer.

Prevention of Knee Sprains

One way to shorten the knee sprain healing time is to prevent sprains in the first place. While they are not completely avoidable, you can try the following tips to reduce your risk:

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