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Physical & Occupational Therapy for Knee Sprains, Strains & Tears

After initial treatment for any type of knee sprain, strain, or tear—which may include rest and immobilization—you may benefit from physical therapy and occupational therapy, which can help you to build strength and flexibility in the injured knee.

The physical and occupational therapists at NYU Langone’s Rusk Rehabilitation meet with you to develop a plan to rebuild your strength and flexibility, so that you can return to sports and everyday activities. Your care team might suggest combining exercise therapy with other treatments, such as therapeutic injections.

NYU Langone Orthopedic Center is equipped with the newest and most advanced physical therapy equipment.

Therapeutic Exercises

Keeping weight off your leg for even a few weeks can cause muscles to weaken. It is important to have well-conditioned muscles to support the knee and prevent another injury from occurring.

After the swelling has subsided and you can stand and walk without significant pain, doctors recommend physical therapy to rebuild strength and flexibility in the thigh and leg muscles, as well as to restore full range of motion to the knee. Usually, this occurs two or three weeks after the injury.

Physical therapists and occupational therapists at NYU Langone’s Rusk Rehabilitation can help to reduce your level of pain, improve mobility, and restore function to the area around the strain, sprain, or tear. They may recommend simple, low impact exercises, such as leg lifts or stationary biking.

Stretching the knee, thigh, and leg can gradually restore your range of motion to pre-injury levels, and strengthening thigh and leg muscles can help to support the knee. As your knee and muscles grow stronger, your physical therapist guides you in returning to more vigorous activity.

The duration of physical therapy depends on the type and extent of the knee injury. For a strain, sprain, or small tear, a doctor may recommend four to eight weeks of physical therapy. For a more serious tear, physical therapy may continue for eight weeks or longer. Your doctor evaluates your progress every four weeks to determine if further rehabilitation is necessary.

Our therapists can also teach you how to participate in daily activities and tasks in ways that may help prevent future knee injuries.

Our Research and Education in Knee Sprains, Strains and Tears

Learn more about our research and professional education opportunities.