Recovery & Support for Knee Sprains, Strains & Tears

While you’re recovering from a knee sprain, strain, or tear, NYU Langone doctors and rehabilitation experts help you rebuild strength and restore function in the knee. Most people who participate in physical therapy can return to athletics and other activities four to eight weeks after a sprain or strain and six to eight months after a tear.

Specialists at NYU Langone Orthopedic Center are specially trained to help people recover from a knee injury. They can customize a recovery plan for you based on your needs and goals.

Physical Therapy

If you’ve had surgery for a knee tear, your doctor may recommend physical therapy to help you heal. In the weeks after the procedure, your physical therapist uses heat, ice, and massage to reduce swelling and relieve pain. He or she also helps you regain movement in the knee.

As walking and exercising become easier, your physical therapist teaches you increasingly strenuous exercises designed to stretch and tone muscle and increase your range of motion until you’ve fully regained mobility and strength. Your physical therapist evaluates your progress every four to eight weeks before recommending additional treatment.

Knee Brace

A knee brace protects and supports your knee while it heals. It also allows you to put weight on the joint without reinjuring it. The design and function of a brace varies depending on the type and extent of the knee injury. Most braces extend above and below the knee and are equipped with hinged parts, which allow you to walk and slightly bend your knee while wearing the brace.

NYU Langone orthopedists often work with orthotics specialists who custom-fit braces for people with knee injuries to ensure comfort while wearing the device. For people who have finished rehabilitation and are ready to return to sports, our orthotics specialists create a customized, flexible brace that provides support but allows full range of motion.

Return to Activity

Your doctor determines when you are healthy enough to return to physical activity and recommends steps you can take to ease back into sports and exercise.

Our physical therapists and exercise physiologists may recommend that you use the Alter-G® Anti-Gravity Treadmill® to ease you back into physical activity without injuring your knee further. This device uses an inflatable apron that surrounds your torso to partially support your weight while you walk or run, allowing a gradual return to your usual level of activity.

Using the newest and most advanced equipment, specialists at NYU Langone’s Sports Performance Center can assess and refine your movements, such as a golf or tennis swing, during activities. Performing these movements incorrectly can contribute to injury. Our experts can teach you how to protect your knee during sports, build strength, and prevent a future injury.

Mind–Body Wellness

NYU Langone offers a variety of wellness programs, which may help ease your recovery. They include acupuncture and acupressure, which may be able to help reduce pain, decrease knee inflammation, and strengthen the immune system to aid in healing.

In acupuncture, practitioners insert thin needles into the skin to stimulate specific points on the body. This may enhance blood flow and speed healing. Acupressure is a type of therapeutic massage in which therapists apply pressure to specific areas of the body.

Tai chi is an ancient form of exercise that consists of a series of simple movements held for varying amounts of time. It is low impact, and most routines move at a slow pace, emphasizing mental focus, balance, and calmness. Many people find that tai chi boosts energy levels and reduces stress during healing.