A sprain is an injury to one or more ligaments without any joint displacement (dislocation). The injury can range from straightforward over-stretching (mild sprain) to total rupture (severe sprain) via tearing of a few fibre bundles (moderate sprain). Ligaments join two bones together to form a joint. They are composed of several fibre bundles and are not very stretchy. Following a trauma (impact, contrary movement), the joint can be forced into a position that goes beyond its natural range of motion, leading to a painful injury. A mild sprain is also called a "strain" or a "twist".
A knee sprain is an injury affecting one or more of the ligaments in the knee joint: lateral collateral ligament, medial collateral ligament, anterior cruciate ligament, posterior cruciate ligament. When taking part in certain sports, such as football or skiing, a trauma can cause a movement beyond the anatomical limits of the joint. For example, a fall or impact may cause the leg to twist while the foot remains locked in position. The femur rotates, while the tibia remains in place. The ligaments are stretched beyond their limits, causing a knee sprain. Beware, a knee sprain may sometimes be accompanied by damage to the cartilage or kneecap.
Knee supports and braces have a number of therapeutic effects, ranging from alleviating pain (analgesic effect) to healing of the ligament(s). The ligaments are rested and are no longer subject to the excessive mechanical stresses caused by walking or incorrect movements. Unlike knee supports (made of elastic fabric), knee braces may be hinged and are designed for more severe sprains. As for knee supports, these secure the joint, increase awareness, improve sensations and muscle performance (only in the event of traumatic damage). Wearing a knee support may also be recommended as a preventive measure when resuming a sports activity following an injury.
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