A knee sprain is a painful but relatively mild leg injury that can be treated at home. However, if the pain is moderate to severe, seek medication advice as there could be more serious problems than just a sprain. Otherwise, for minor sprains, these are the ways you can manage the pain and accelerate recovery.
For most leg and ankle injuries, the first step you should do is to apply the R.I.C.E method – Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.
Rest: Stop all activities that would put stress on the knee and try to find a place to rest as soon as possible.
Ice: Use an ice pack or a pack of frozen vegetables to ice the wound for 10 to 20 minutes to reduce pain and swelling. Do not apply heat pack or take hot showers within the first 48 hours after injury as the heat might increase swelling.
Compression: Wrap the injury tightly with a bandage but ensure that it is not too tight that it cuts off circulation.
Elevation: Use a pillow to prop up the injured leg through the whole treatment. After these steps are completed, let the wound rest for 20 to 30 minutes and repeat the process for at least 3 times.
A light massage on the wounded area would promote blood circulation and ease the pain. However, do not rub with too much force as this would aggravate the injury. Stop the massage if there is too much pain.
Doing light stretching exercises helps to regain flexibility and prevent the muscles from stiffening up. Stretch the hamstrings by lying down with one leg on a wall or a stable support. Make sure your knee is straight and hold it there for a minute. There should be a slight tension running down the back of your leg.
Another exercise is the knee-to-chest stretch. Lying down and keeping knees bent while the feet are flat, bring one knee towards the chest with your hands and hold for half a minute before switching to another knee.
Do not carry out any of these exercises if they cause too much pain. Limit to just a light stretch.
Things to avoid
During the course of injury, keep off alcohol as it would increase swelling. Also, avoid smoking as it decreases blood supply and slows tissue repair. Try to avoid activities that would aggravate the injury until the pain and swelling have completely subsided.