First Aid Training

Knee ligament injury

Fact Checked

An individual might end up with a knee ligament injury at some point. Even though the ligaments around the knee are sturdy, they can be damaged due to overstretching or end up torn.

If the knee ligament is torn, it can be partial or complete. Most cases of knee ligament injuries include sprains that usually settle in a short period.

Indications of a knee ligament injury

If an individual damaged one or several knee ligaments, the symptoms are the same regardless of the damaged ligament. The degree of severity depends on the damage to the ligament.

Knee ligament injury
If a knee ligament is damaged, there is bleeding within the joint which leads to swelling.
  • Popping sound or snapping sensation felt at the time of injury that can be sometimes heard if the ligament is fully torn.
  • Swollen knee – if a knee ligament is damaged, there is bleeding within the joint which leads to swelling. The swelling depends on the severity of the damage.
  • Knee pain
  • Tenderness around the knee
  • Inability to use or move the knee normally – movement might be drastically diminished in complete tears while normal knee movement is maintained after a minor sprain.
  • Sensation of knee instability or about to “give away” if attempting to stand on it – this causes the individual to limp.
  • Knee bruising can develop but not in all cases.



During the initial 48-72 hours, the PRICE method is observed.

  • Protect the damaged knee from further injury
  • Rest the affected joint for 48-72 hours after the injury. Crutches can be used to keep off weight from the injured knee. Exercises must be started soon so that the knee is kept mobile which can be started as soon as the individual can tolerate activity without triggering pain.
  • Ice must be applied right after the injury, usually for 10-30 minutes at a time. Prepare an ice pack by placing ice cubes in a towel or plastic bag. Gently apply the pack on the injured knee to reduce the pain and inflammation. After the initial application, reapply for 15 minutes every 2 hours for the first 48-72 hours.
  • Compression with a bandage – this aims on reducing the swelling and allow the joint to rest. The bandage should be placed snugly but not too tight that the blood flow is disrupted. The bandage is usually removed after 48 hours.
  • Elevation – this aims on limiting and reducing the swelling. The affected foot should be propped on a chair while seated. The individual can also lie on a sofa and raise the foot on cushions. If in bed, prop the foot on a pillow. The foot must be raised above the level of the heart.

Disclaimer / More Information

The information posted on this page on knee ligament injury is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage ligament injuries, register for first aid training at one of our training centers located throughout Canada. The training centers are in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Kelowna, Surrey, Winnipeg, Mississauga, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.

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