Shivakumar, a police constable, slipped while chasing some hoodlums last year. As a result of his fall, he sprained his knee and although he felt some pain then, he ignored it and did not follow it up with medical consultation. However, the condition became worse as his leg swelled up and he found it difficult to even move around. It was only after this extreme discomfort and an instability in his knee joint that he approached experts.
X rays revealed that Shivakumar had an anterior cruciate ligament tear and had to undergo a minor keyhole surgery to correct the ligament. Dr Raghu Nagaraj, consultant and surgeon, Arthroscopy and Sports Medicine, says, “A sprain or strained muscle occurs when one or more of your ligaments have been stretched, twisted or torn, usually as a result of excessive force being applied to a joint. If a person changes direction or speed suddenly, falls and lands awkwardly or collides with an object or person while playing sports, they are liable to sprain their muscles.”
He also added that sports persons, children and the elderly were predisposed towards developing this condition.
“Ligaments are strong bands of tissue around joints that connect bones to one another. Any pressure on them may result in damage and cause pain and swelling,” says Dr Pradeep Kiran, consultant and orthopedic surgeon. Dr Kiran also mentioned that popping pills to treat sprains without consulting experts is not advisable as it may have other complications. Knee sprains can be classified into three grades:
Grade 1: a few fibres (less than 10 percent) are damaged/torn. This kind of sprain usually heals naturally.
Grade 2: more fibres are torn but the ligament is still intact.
Grade 3: the ligament is ruptured or completely torn.
For the first two grades, ice pack therapy and a warm oil massage for few days coupled with rest is suggested, while the third grade requires surgery. Muscle strains are particularly common in the legs and back, such as hamstring strains and lumbar (lower back) strains.
When to see a doctor?
Most sprains and strains are relatively minor. However, one should visit a general practitioner immediately if the following symptoms are noticed:
- immobility of the injured joint or muscle
- the injured limb, gives way when you try to use it
- the injured area looks crooked or has unusual bumps (other than swelling) you have numbness, discolouration or a cold feeling in any part of the injured area and the symptoms have not started to improve within a few days.
Common locations for sprains include the knees, ankles, wrists and thumbs.
Symptoms of a sprain can include:
Pain around the affected joint
Unable to use the joint normally or put any weight on it
Loss of some or all functions in the affected muscle
Haematoma or a dark red bruise