A slip is more likely to cause a minor sprain to the knee but it is still possible to tear the important stabilising ligaments within and surrounding the knee joint.
The other common possibility would be a torn cartilage (meniscus) which often occurs alongside a ligament sprain and will remain troublesome even after a sprain has resolved. If your full body weight was on the affected leg and the knee became swollen within a few hours after the incident, then a more significant injury should be suspected e.g. meniscal tear or cruciate ligament tear. If the knee became mildly swollen in the days after the injury, then a sprain of the outer supporting collateral ligaments is more likely. It would certainly be worth seeing your doctor who may wish to scan the knee or send you to an orthopaedic/musculoskeletal specialist for a detailed examination and opinion.
After an injury the supporting muscles around the knee weaken very quickly which leads to secondary problems, so it is important that you try to maintain some of the normal movement of the knee to minimise this. A physiotherapy consultation would also be useful so that you can take the right course of action quickly.
Answered by Dr Alistair Wright.
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