How Long Does It Take a Sprained Knee to Heal?

Knee sprains are one of the more serious sports-related injuries, but they don’t always have to be. There are several types, and they all come with different healing protocols and recovery periods. That’s especially true in a game like basketball.

This guide analyzes the different levels of knee sprains and breaks down how to treat each one. That will show why they’re so serious compared to similar issues, as well as what all athletes can do to overcome them.

The Three Recoveries

As with any injury, there are different levels to a sprained knee. While the ailment is always serious, it can range from a minor setback to something much more long-term. Each one has a different recovery period too.

The first type, known as a grade 1, typically heals up in around one to two weeks. Some can take a little longer, and it’s always better to air on the side of caution, but most athletes will be able to walk and put some real pressure on them after that time period.

Grade 2, in contrast, usually takes about four to six weeks. With those sprains, the ligament often tears and the joint becomes more unstable. Even if it feels like it’s healing quickly, it’s critical to never overextend the injured area or to try to return too early in this case.

The last sprain, grade 3, is the most serious. These can take a month or two to fully heal, especially if the initial impact went beyond the joint. Not only that, but they often require a lot of rehabilitation both during and after the injury.  

However, if the damage is deep enough a grade 3 sprain may also require surgery. In such cases, players can be out for the better part of a year before they even start rehab. Those instances are rare, but do happen more frequently at higher levels of play.

Getting Better

Sprained knees, regardless of severity, all have similar recovery regiments. They require a mix of pain management, immobilization, compression, and ample amounts of rest. How much each one needs directly depends on the initial injury.

The first aspect of recovery is pain medication. Getting some painkillers can help with swelling and make it easier for the body to handle the sprain. Once that’s done, it’s about cooling the hurt area (an ice pack for a set amount of time per day) and adding a lot of compression.

Elastic bandages or ace wraps are both incredibly useful when dealing with a sprained knee. The extra tension directly cuts down on swelling and helps stabilize the joint. 

That then goes in turn with immobilization. Braces or other larger devices are a great way to hold the knee in place and prevent any extra damage to the already hurt area.

That’s why rest is so important as well. All sprains have a set timetable they need to follow, and it’s critical that the injury doesn’t become more aggravated in that time. Any athlete with a sprained knee must avoid putting any extra stress or movement on their ailment until it heals.

Certain light exercises and physical therapy stretches can both help the knee a few weeks into recovery, but that should only happen after enough time has passed when the area has had time to recover. Going in too early can lead to larger issues down the line. 

Final Words

Lower body injuries are something all basketball players deal with, but knee injuries are a completely different beast. It’s critical to take any ailment, even a light sprain, seriously. As long as you take it slow and don’t rush back, they should heal before you know it.

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