If a knee sprain or strain injury is restricting your movements, then minimally invasive regenerative treatments could help you enjoy your life the way you want to.
What is a knee sprain?
Knee sprains are common but often painful and debilitating injuries affecting the network of ligaments that hold the knee in place.
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) stabilize the knee in front to back movements and keep in correctly aligned by crossing each other over the centre of the knee joint.
The medical collateral ligament (MCL) and lateral collateral ligament (LCL) stabilize the knee by stopping the bones sliding from side to side.
Ligament sprains range from mild (causing little discomfort and loss of mobility) to severe (resulting in intense pain and near-total immobility.)
In diagnostic testing, knee sprains are often rated by severity.
Grade 1 is an overstretched ligament with no tearing.
Grade 2 is a partially torn ligament.
Grade 3 is a ligament that’s severely torn or separate.
For Grade 1 injuries, simple first aid, rest and gentle physiotherapy are often enough to fully heal the knee. Grade 2 and 3 knee sprains have traditionally been treated with more intensive physiotherapy, or through invasive treatment like surgery – often with long recovery times and varying degrees of success.
Happily, there are now state-of-the-art biological therapies which can help you avoid debilitating and often unsuccessful surgery for your severe knee sprain. These therapies are a cost-effective, non-invasive and highly successful way to quickly and permanently repair even the most severe knee injuries.
What is a knee strain?
Knee strains happen when the tendons or muscles of the knee area are over-stretched but not broken. No doubt we’ve all experienced this type of injury when going about the business of daily life – walking, climbing steps or dashing after an errant dog!
Knee strains can lead to pain around the knee joint along with problems moving the knee or whole leg as normal (the patellar tendon stretches from the lower kneecap to the front of the tibia bone in the lower leg.)
What treatments does the regenerative clinic offer?
Our renowned medical team provides a range of non-invasive treatments, from the traditional to the innovative. Many of our treatments can be carried out on an outpatient basis, without the need for a hospital stay. In fact, many patients can resume their normal activities within several hours of their visit!
This is an effective and well-researched procedure that’s a potential alternative to surgery for a knee ligament injury. It takes advantage of the blood’s natural healing properties to reduce pain and improve joint function. It uses a specially concentrated dosage of platelets prepared from your own blood to repair damaged cartilage, tendons, ligaments, muscle and bone. Treatment is administered via an injection and depending on the injury two to six injections may be required, performed at weekly intervals. Patients usually see their symptoms improve within four to six weeks of having the injections. PRP is a safe treatment option which, because your own blood is used, carries no risk of allergic reaction.
This day case treatment is suitable for patients who have suffered a severe knee ligament injury and combines the benefits of Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy with Lipogems®, a pioneering procedure that uses your body’s own adipose (fat) cells to treat pain and inflammation. AMPP injections are minimally invasive and are carried out under ultrasound guidance. Altogether the procedure takes about an hour to perform with a minimal recovery time of around three hours. As well as being a potential alternative to surgery, AMPP can also aid post-surgery recovery. Read Angela’s story who had Lipogems® treatment in her knees. She is now pain free and her life has changed completely.
The nSTRIDE APS injection treatment is designed repair damaged knee ligaments by introducing high levels of “good” proteins concentrated from your own blood. These good proteins can block the “bad” proteins responsible for the inflammatory condition in your joint. At the same time, nSTRIDE APS also concentrates growth factors which are beneficial for cartilage health.
What causes a sprain or strain in the knee area?
Any activity that forces your knee out of its normal position can lead to a sprain or strain. If you regularly play contact sports like football, rugby or basketball, or if you take part in active pursuits like gymnastics, swimming or skiing, it’s likely that you’ll experience a knee injury at some point in your life. This could put you out of action for several weeks more months – perhaps longer if the injury involves a tear to the ligaments and is exacerbated by an underlying condition like arthritis, or if you’re advanced in years.
The most common cause of a knee sprain or strain is a sudden jump or twist that puts fast and intense pressure on the knee joint. Knee sprains and strains can also happen if you over-straighten your knee suddenly or if you are struck with force in the knee or lower leg – for instance during a car accident.
A simple fall could also be all it takes to cause a sprain, as your lower leg can twist inwards or outwards from your thigh, applying pressure to the knee area.
For those who enjoy a range of active pursuits, or play sport at a competitive level, a severe knee sprain or strain is often a major cause for concern as the most serious injuries can take many weeks and months to heal. With the advent of innovative new treatments like Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy, for example, sufferers can be back on their feet quicker than ever before – even the elderly and those with additional or underlying conditions.
What are the symptoms of a sprained or strained knee?
Everyone experiences the effects of a sprained or strained knee differently, but common symptoms include:
- A popping noise in the knee joint
- Difficulty putting weight on the affected leg
- Muscle spasms or cramps
You may experience these symptoms in isolation, or in tandem, and some will be more severe and debilitating than others (your pain may be mild, for example, but the inability to put weight on the affected leg could affect your capacity to work or care for children over a long period of time.)
How is a sprained or strained knee diagnosed?
If you injure your knee and suffer from discomfort, swelling or immobility, see your GP as soon as possible, especially if you are unable to put weight on the affected leg.
Your doctor will look for swelling and bruising, ask you to move your knee around to test mobility and may place stress on the individual ligaments in the knee to see if the joint is stable.
Tell your doctor how the damaged happened, whether you heard a noise at point of injury and how long it took for any swelling and pain to become apparent.
You may be offered an X-ray to check for broken bones, or your doctor may want to conduct an imaging test to look for damaging to ligaments and muscles.
What are the non-surgical treatment options for a sprained knee?
What are the non-surgical treatment options for a sprained knee?
A sprained or strained knee can vary hugely in severity, with potential treatment options dependent on the nature and extent of the damage.
For Grade 1 and 2 sprains involving little or no tearing of the ligaments, over-the-counter pain relief should be enough to address any discomfort. If you are experiencing swelling, an ice pack on the knee for 20 minutes every couple of hours or a compression bandage around the affected area should ease this. You may also wish to sit or sleep with the affected leg propped up on pillows so that it’s raised higher than your heart. Avoid doing anything that over stresses your knee, such as exercising or playing sport (your doctor may also give you a brace to keep your knee stabilized while healing occurs.) With adequate rest, your grade 1 or 2 sprained knee should be fully healed within 4 weeks.
For grade 3 sprained knees, involving a ligament that’s severely torn or separated, physiotherapy may be the first line of treatment suggested by your GP after first aid measures have been applied.
Based on the extent of your injury and what, if any healing has already taken place, your physiotherapist will recommend a combination of:
- Leg lifts
- Knee bends
- Toe raises
- Thigh strengthening exercises
- Thigh and calf stretching
- Gentle weight training with leg press equipment
A sprained or strained knee may improve gradually up to six weeks of physiotherapy, allowing you to resume normal activities and start exercising again (with caution.) For those who play sport regularly or at a competitive level, and for the elderly, physiotherapy may be an ongoing process to maintain the overall health of the affected knee.
What are the surgical options for a sprained knee?
If your sprain involves a severely torn ligament that does not heal with physiotherapy, you may need surgery. This typically involves reattaching the torn ligament or replacing it with a grafted piece of undamaged tendon from another part of your body.
Your surgeon will make a few small cuts and drill tiny holes in your calf and thigh bones to attach the grafted tendon, which will grow around them to stabilize the area.
After surgery for your sprained knee, it can take many weeks if not months to resume normal activities like walking without crutches and exercising. You will need to avoid contact sports altogether until the injury is fully healed and may require an ongoing physiotherapy to aid healing and restore a healthy range of motion.
Unfortunately, surgery for a Grade 2 or Grade 3 sprained knee, is not always 100% successful. In the most severe cases, your surgeon may only be able to repair rather than fully restore the damage, leaving you in continuous pain and unable to resume activities you enjoy.
Why have a consultation at the Regenerative Clinic?
Who will my consultation be with?
Your consultation will be booked with one of our knee specialists: Professor Wilson, Mr. Sam Heaton, Mr. Jamie Arbuthnot, Mr. Arj Imbuldeniya, Mr. Rohit Jain, Mr. Ed Britton or Mr. Amit Kumar.
Our expert team is made up of highly experienced surgeons, sports medicine doctors and physiotherapists who are committed to delivering a high level of care along with identifying the right treatment option to help you return to life as it was before your knee injury.
Many of our patients explore a wide range of medical options but are ultimately unable to find a treatment that fully restores their knee injury, particularly if they are experiencing underlying or age-related conditions like arthritis that exacerbate symptoms and complicate the prognosis.
We offer a range of non-invasive, non-surgical options for those who wish to avoid going under the knife, or for those who have found surgical intervention ineffective.
What will my consultation involve?
Your consultation will last approximately 30 minutes. You may be also be asked to attend for an MRI scan, prior to your appointment.
As well as undertaking an examination, our specialists will take details of your medical history and discuss your symptoms. They will cover your treatment options in detail, including their potential benefits and any risks involved. and cover their potential benefits and risks.
What is the autologus biological approach and when should it be considered?
Autologous translates as ‘from the same person.’ In brief, it involves using your own cells to encourage healing. The major benefits are that there is no chance of rejection, infection or contamination as you are using cells from your own body rather than a donor.
We offer a range therapies based on this principle which can be considered if traditional treatments including surgery aren’t relieving your pain.
Biological treatments are pioneering procedures and we’re continuously monitoring and recording its effectiveness. Patients undertaking these treatments are asked to complete pre-operative and post-operative questionnaires.
The information obtained from these questionnaires allows us to monitor your progress and it also contributes to our evidence-based database and other global studies on biological treatments. All information gathered is anonymised.