What is a Knee Sprain?

What is a Knee Sprain?, TPL Orthopedics and Sports MedicineA knee sprain means that a person has injured one of the ligaments around the knee joint. There are four main ligaments that offer stability to the knee. 

In addition, there are various smaller ligaments that can lead to pain after an injury. People often feel confused between sprains and strains. A sprain refers to an injury to a ligament whereas a strain is an injury to a muscle.

Regards the knee, the ligaments enable the knee joint to bend back and forth but control excessive motions. The collateral ligaments of the knee prevent excessive side-to-side movement. Similarly, the cruciate ligaments are vital for rotational and forward/backward stability.

Board certified orthopedic surgeons Dr. Steven C. Thomas and Dr. Gregory T. Bigler provide procedures for the knee and shoulder to patients in Las Vegas, Nevada as well as Greater Pahrump, Bullhead City, Lake Havasu, Mesquite, NV, and surrounding locations.



The most commonly occurring symptoms of a knee sprain are pain and inflammation. In general, people who injure their knee damaging the ligaments will experience immediate symptoms. At times, these symptoms worsen over the initial 48 hours, and gradually subside, depending on the severity of the injury. 

The common symptoms of a knee sprain are as follows:

  • Inflammation of the knee
  • Knee pain
  • Instability/giving-out/buckling
  • Stiffness of the joint



A variety of injuries can cause knee sprains. Sometimes the injuries occur due to athletic activities. Knee sprains in athletics can occur because of both contact injuries and non-contact events. Knee sprains usually occur after falls and other trauma at the workplace or at home. These sprains also commonly occur after car accidents.



Knee ligament injuries are often graded to define the severity of the injury. A grade of injury offers an indication of the extent of damage to the ligament. Generally, most doctors grade on a scale of one to three. 



Ligament tears are graded as follows:

  • Grade I: A minor injury that will likely heal with rest and activity modifications over one to two weeks.
  • Grade II: A moderate injury involving partial tearing of the ligament that will require more restrictions on activities and may take four to six weeks for recovery.
  • Grade III: A complete or almost-complete tear of the ligament. This may require more extended rehabilitation or surgical intervention, depending of the damaged ligament.

It is vital to bear in mind that these general grades are somewhat arbitrary. In reality, a ligament can sustain damage in various ways across a spectrum, from no injury to a complete tear. 

For this reason, these classifications are used most notably to offer athletes an indication of the severity of the injury and a timeline for an expected return to their athletic pursuits. 

As mentioned, the main issue with calling an injury a knee sprain is that these words do little to convey helpful information. Understanding the specific ligament injured will assist the doctor and their team to identify the best treatment to make sure that the patient returns to their routine activities as soon as possible. 

Board certified orthopedic surgeons at the Thomas and Bigler Knee & Shoulder Institute receive patients from Las Vegas, Nevada as well as Greater Pahrump, Bullhead City, Lake Havasu, Mesquite, NV, and nearby areas for knee and shoulder procedures.

If you would like to schedule an appointment or learn more about the Knee and Shoulder Institute procedures & treatments performed by Las Vegas, Nevada board-certified surgeons Steven C. Thomas, MD and Gregory T. Bigler, MD. Contact the office today click here.

Serving patients from and around greater Las Vegas, Lake Havasu, Bullhead City, Mesquite, Pahrump, Nevada.

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