Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Knee Sprain Home Care

Home care for a knee sprain includes:

  • Apply a cold compress:
    • Wrap ice in a moist hand towel. Do not apply ice directly to the skin.
    • Apply for 20-30 minutes, every 1-2 hours, for the first few days.
  • Elevate your knee.
    • Above your heart if possible.
  • Apply an elastic wrap to knee.
    • Re-wrap the knee every 6 hours.
  • Rest the injury.
    • Use a walker.
    • Use crutches.
    • Use a cane.
  • Apply a knee cast or splint.
    • The splint may help protect the knee.
  • Knee exercises
    • Start exercises after 3 days.
    • Gradually increase your activity over 1-2 weeks.
  • Acetaminophen for pain
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain:
  • Take prescribed medications as directed:
    • Don't skip doses of your medication. This makes them less effective.
    • Be aware of the common side effects that may be caused by your medication.

Knee Sprain Pain in Adults

Medications commonly used to control pain and inflammation in adults with a knee sprain include:


Acetaminophen
  • Acetaminophen decreases fever and pain, but does not help inflammation.
  • Adult dosing is 2 regular strength (325 mg) every 4 hours or 2 extra-strength (500 mg) every 6 hours.
  • Maximum dose is 4,000 mg per day.
  • Avoid this drug if you have alcoholism, liver disease or an allergy to the drug. See the package instructions.
  • Common brand names include Tylenol, Panadol, and many others.

Aspirin

Ibuprofen

Naproxen

Ketoprofen

NSAID Precautions

Knee Sprain Pain in Children

Common medications used at home for pain in children with a knee sprain include:


Aspirin and most of the other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are not used in children except under a doctor's care.

Acetaminophen
  • Acetaminophen decreases fever and pain, but does not help inflammation.
  • Dosing is 10-15 mg per kilogram (5-7 mg per pound) of body weight every 4-6 hours, up to the adult dose.
  • Do not exceed the maximum daily dose.
  • Acetaminophen products come in various strengths. Always follow the package instructions.
  • Avoid this drug in children with liver disease or an allergy to acetaminophen.
  • Common acetaminophen products include Tylenol, Panadol and many others.

Ibuprofen

Naproxen

Knee Sprain Using a Cane

Some patients with a knee sprain may benefit from the use of a cane.

Proper Cane Length
The handle of your cane should reach to the crease in your wrist when you stand upright and the end of the cane is resting on the floor.

Using a Cane
Hold the cane in the hand on the side opposite the leg that needs support. When you step on the bad leg, the cane should be on the ground at the same time. For example, if your left leg is painful or injured, you should use the cane with your right arm. When you step with your left leg, the cane in your right hand and your left leg should be on the ground at the same time.

Follow these steps:

  • Position your cane one small stride ahead and step forward onto the bad leg. Place weight on your bad leg and the arm that is supported by the cane. Your elbow should be slightly bent as you support your weight.
  • Step forward with the good leg.

Climbing Stairs with a Cane
Climb one stair at a time and rest on one step before moving to the next step.

Follow these steps:
  • Grasp the handrail with the hand that is on the same side as the bad leg.
  • Place your weight on the bad leg and on the arm that is supported by the cane.
  • Step up to the next step with your good leg.
  • Transfer your weight to the good leg.
  • Move the cane and the bad leg to the step where you placed the good leg.
  • Support and stabilize yourself with your legs, the cane, and the handrail before moving to the next step.

Going down Stairs with a Cane
Go down one stair at a time and rest on one step before moving to the next step.

Follow these steps:
  • Grasp the handrail with the hand that is on the same side as the bad leg.
  • Place your weight on the good leg.
  • Place your bad leg and the cane on the step below.
  • Transfer your weight to the bad leg and the arm supported by the cane.
  • Move the stable leg to the step where you placed the cane and the bad leg.
  • Support and stabilize yourself with your legs, the cane, and the handrail before moving to the next step.

Knee Sprain Using a Walker

Elderly patients with a knee sprain may require more support than a cane or crutches can offer. A walker is much more stable than crutches or a cane. A walker allows you to keep weight off one leg while you walk. It is also lends support if both of your legs are unstable or painful.

The handles of your walker should reach the crease in your wrist when you stand upright and the walker is placed on the floor. Moving slowly is important when you use a walker.

Using a Walker

  • Place your walker one stride ahead of you. Make sure that all 4 legs of your walker are on the ground.
  • Grasp the handles on the walker with both hands. Lean forward and support your weight on your arms.
  • Step forward with your good leg. Place your foot in the center of the square that is made by the walker feet.
  • Step forward with the bad leg.

Walker Rules
  • Take small steps when you turn.
  • In order to sit in a chair, back up until your legs touch the chair. Reach behind you in order to feel the seat and then sit down.
  • In order to get up from a chair, push yourself up with your arms and then grasp the handles on the walker.
  • Make sure that the rubber tips on the legs of the walker are tightly fastened. Replace the rubber tips if they become worn.
  • Do not use your walker to climb stairs.
  • Do not use your walker on an escalator.

General Safety Tips
  • Remove small area rugs, electrical cords, spilled liquids or other items that may cause you to slip.
  • In the bathroom, install non-slip bath mats, toilet grab bars, a raised toilet seat, shower grab bars, and a shower tub seat.
  • Keep needed household items in close reach. Store less used items out of the way.
  • Use a backpack, fanny pack, apron or briefcase in order to carry items.

Knee Sprain Using Crutches

Some patients with a knee sprain will require crutches. You must be able to support your entire weight on one leg in order to use crutches. Crutches allow you to walk without placing any weight on an injured or painful leg.

Proper Adjustment for Crutches

  • The top of your crutch should be 1-1.5 inches below your armpit as you stand upright and the crutch rests on the floor.
  • The hand grips should be even with your hip joint.
  • Your elbows should bend as you use the hand grips.

Non Weight Bearing Technique
  • Stand on the good leg while using the crutches for balance.
  • Hold the bad leg off the floor.
  • Begin your step as if you are going to step on the bad leg, but do not place any weight on this leg. Instead, place both crutches in front of you and place your weight on your arms.
  • Your arms are supported by the crutches as you grip the crutch handles.
  • The crutches should be placed on the floor at an angle away from the side of your body, in a shape like the upright arms of the capital letter, "A."
  • Your elbows should bend as you support your weight.
  • Gently push off with your good leg after the crutches are firmly planted on the floor. Swing your body forward between the crutches.
  • Rest the top of the crutches tightly against each side of your chest and continue to support your weight with your arms.
  • Do not rest your armpits on the tops of the crutches. This can cause nerve damage.
  • Place your good leg on the floor and allow it to completely support your weight. Swing your crutches slightly away from your body and forward. Place the crutches on the floor to prepare for the next step.
  • Focus on where you are walking -- do not look at your feet.

Partial Weight Bearing Technique
  • Stand on the good leg while using the crutches for balance.
  • Begin to step on the bad leg, but do not place your entire weight on this leg. Instead, place most of your weight on your arms.
  • Your arms are supported by the crutches as you grip the crutch handles.
  • The crutches should be placed on the floor at an angle away from the side of your body, in a shape like the upright arms of the capital letter, "A."
  • Your elbows should bend as you support your weight.
  • Gently push off with your good leg after the crutches are firmly planted on the floor. Swing your bad leg forward between the crutches.
  • Rest the top of the crutches tightly against each side of your chest. Continue to support your weight with your arms and the bad leg.
  • Do not rest your armpits on the tops of the crutches.
  • Place your good leg on the floor and allow it to completely support your weight. Swing your crutches slightly away from your body and forward. Place the crutches on the floor to prepare for the next step.
  • Focus on where you are walking -- do not look at your feet.

Climbing Stairs with Crutches
When climbing stairs, you should climb one stair at a time, completely resting for a moment on one step before moving to the next step.

Follow these steps:
  • Start by supporting your weight with your good leg and both crutches.
  • Place your weight on both of the crutches and move your good leg up to the next step.
  • Transfer your weight to the good leg.
  • Lift the bad leg and the crutches onto the same step where you placed the good leg.
  • Support and stabilize yourself with both crutches and the good leg before moving to the next step.

Going down Stairs on Crutches
When going down stairs, you should go down one stair at a time. Stop and rest for a moment on one step before moving to the next step.

Follow these steps:
  • Start by supporting your weight with your good leg and both crutches.
  • Place your weight on the good leg and place both of the crutches onto the next lower step.
  • Transfer your weight to both crutches.
  • Place the good leg onto the same step where you placed the crutches.
  • Support and stabilize yourself with both crutches and the good leg before moving to the next step.

Knee Sprain Warning Signs

Notify your doctor if you have a knee sprain and any of the following:

Continue to Knee Sprain Prevention

Last Updated: Mar 7, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
Copyright DSHI Systems, Inc. Powered by: FreeMD - Your Virtual Doctor

PubMed Knee Sprain References
  1. Beynnon BD, Johnson RJ, Abate JA, Fleming BC, Nichols CE. Treatment of anterior cruciate ligament injuries, part 2. Am J Sports Med. 2005 Nov;33(11):1751-67.[16230470]
  2. Beynnon BD, Johnson RJ, Abate JA, Fleming BC, Nichols CE. Treatment of anterior cruciate ligament injuries, part I. Am J Sports Med. 2005 Oct;33(10):1579-602. [16199611]
  3. Boutin RD, Fritz RC. MRI of snow skiing and snowboarding injuries. Semin Musculoskelet Radiol. 2005 Dec;9(4):360-78. [16315118]
  4. Forster MC, Komarsamy B, Davison JN. Distal femoral fractures: a review of fixation methods. Injury. 2006 Feb;37(2):97-108. [16439229]
  5. Khan Z, Faruqui Z, Ogyunbiyi O, Rosset G, Iqbal J. Ultrasound assessment of internal derangement of the knee. Acta Orthop Belg. 2006 Jan;72(1):72-6. [16570898]
  6. Rose NE, Gold SM. A comparison of accuracy between clinical examination and magnetic resonance imaging in the diagnosis of meniscal and anterior cruciate ligament tears. Arthroscopy. 1996 Aug;12(4):398-405.[8863996]
  7. Woo SL, Abramowitch SD, Kilger R, Liang R. Biomechanics of knee ligaments: injury, healing, and repair. J Biomech. 2006;39(1):1-20. [16271583]
FreeMD is provided for information purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for evaluation and treatment by a physician. Please review our terms of use.