While sport and exercises are suitable for your body, certain injuries result from intense sports and exercises. A hyperextended knee is one of these injuries.
Like most injuries relating to the knees, hyperextended knees can cause immense discomfort and pain. If you suspect that you suffer from this injury, here is all you need to know.
What is a Hyperextended Knee?
A hyperextended knee is an injury that occurs when the leg straightens at the knee joint beyond its natural capacity. This extension stresses the knee structures, causing pain, swelling, and discomfort. In most cases, it also causes soft tissue damage in the knee area.
Hyper knee extension often occurs when doing high-impact exercise or sports, and you land heavily on your legs. For this reason, athletes who indulge in extreme sports are more prone to hyperextended knees.
Hyperextended knees often lead to intense damage to your ligaments and are more common in female athletes than male athletes.
How to Know If Your Knee is Hyperextended
You can easily tell that you have a hyperextended knee by a series of symptoms that you will experience. Here are some of the symptoms that will indicate hyperextended knee injuries.
If you have a hyperextended knee, the most basic telltale sign is that your knee will be bent upward beyond its normal direction.
The first thing to look out for is the pop sound you will hear in the moment of injury.
You may then feel a sharp, intense pain in and around your knee. The pain begins almost immediately after you incur the injury and may not subside until you get the proper treatment.
Another sign of hyperextended knee is bruises around the affected knee. These bruises will appear shortly after you injure your knee and may vary in their intensity depending on how severe your injury is.
A hyperextended knee also leads to the accumulation of water in the knee joint. As a result, the knee swells up and causes extreme discomfort whenever you make any sudden movements.
Since hyperextended knee interferes with movement, you will find it very hard or even impossible to move your leg. You may have a limp in your walk as a result. Knee instability and buckling are other telltale signs that you should not ignore.
You should know that you may have hyperextended knee injuries with mild pain if the injury is less severe. In such cases, be sure to look out for the other symptoms and seek treatment as soon as possible.
What Causes Hyperextended Knee
So what exactly is the cause of your hyperextended knee?
Any time you subject your knee joint ligaments to excessive stress, you are at risk of getting a hyperextended knee injury. In most cases, the cruciate ligament (ACL) and the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) are the ligaments that face the highest risk. These injuries often result from contact sports or severe accidents.
So if you are a lover of football, wrestling, or lacrosse, you may want to take extra measures to prevent yourself from the hyperextended knee. In such sports, the impact of an opponent’s tackle is enough to push your femur over your patella. This, in turn, exerts stress on your ligaments.
Runners and basketballers are not entirely safe either. Using the wrong running technique or extra force can easily cause hyperextended knees. This can occur if you put all your weight on one leg with a blunt and excess force.
The most common yet unavoidable cause of severe hyperextended knee is car accidents. Car accident injuries that involve the knee often interfere with your knee tissues and cartilage and may result in hyperextended knees.
Naturally Hyperextended Knee
Although most knee hyperextensions result from injuries and accidents, there are few cases of the naturally hyperextended knee. This condition is also known as Genu Recurvatum and is a condition in which one’s knees chronically hyperextends backward past its neutral resting point. It is more prevalent in women since they often have laxity in their ligaments. Other common causes of the naturally hyperextended knee include; Leg Length Discrepancy, muscle weakness, or medical conditions.
Fortunately, even this can be treated! Depending on the intensity of your hyperextension, you may have to incorporate; Medication, knee braces, physical therapy, or surgery in severe cases.
Preventing Hyperextended Knee
Now that you know what causes hyperextended knees and what signs and symptoms to look out for, you are probably wondering how to prevent it and save yourself the pain and trouble.
The first and most essential tip when it comes to preventing hyperextended knees is to know your limits. Never overexert your body. For instance, if you want to achieve milestones in your sports career, start small and work upward towards your goal.
Much as contact sports involve multiple (and at times uncontrollable) players, try your best to maintain the proper technique in the field. This will go a long way in preventing unnecessary injuries both on yourself and your fellow players. If all players heed the rules, few (if any) players will likely be hurt.
Use good form for your cardio exercises. This will lower the risk of injuring your leg. On the other hand, exercising on hard concrete will cause more stress to your joints and increase your risk of injury.
Remember to warm up and stretch before exercises. This will prepare your body for the exercises or sporting activities that follow. Failure to stretch increases your chances of sustaining injuries.
You can never overlook the importance of these safety measures. A hyperextended knee permanently damages your ligaments and leaves room for recurring injuries. The best way to avoid recurring pain is to prevent it altogether.
Treating Mild Hyperextended Knee
If you suffer from a mild hyperextended knee, you will be glad to discover that you can treat your leg without undergoing surgery. Most of the treatment involves steps that you can do yourself from home or with the help of a loved one.
The essential thing is to get adequate rest. Ensure that your hyperextended knee is well propped and elevated. Time is of the essence when it comes to ligament recovery. Give your knee at least 2-4 weeks for mild cases.
To speed up your healing process, consider adding ice and compression to your treatment. This will also work to relieve your pain and reduce inflammation. You may also get some over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen if your injury causes too much pain. However, be sure to consult your doctor since you may be allergic to some medication.
You may also consider going for knee rehab to correct your hyperextended knee. Knee rehab involves a series of exercises with a professional that aims to restore your knee while preventing the long-term effects of the injury. Be sure to get your services from a certified rehab that knows what they are doing. Otherwise, you may end up causing more damage to yourself.
Other treatments you should consider for your knee include a knee brace, which will help avoid further injury, and a chiropractor, which will be very helpful in attaining full recovery.
Hyperextended Knee Surgery
Extreme hyperextended knee injuries may call for surgery. This is common in cases such as car accidents, where the damage is immense. Surgery may take two forms; Arthroscopy, which is for more manageable injuries, whereas reconstruction surgery involves extreme injuries.
In arthroscopy, your surgeon will use an endoscopic camera to assess the damages in your injured knee, then make all the necessary repairs.
Reconstruction surgery, on the other hand, involves the removal of torn ligaments. The surgeon then replaces these ligaments using grafts.
Hyperextended Knee Recovery Time
The hyperextended knee recovery time varies from person to person. It depends on how intense the injury was and what treatments were put in place.
For mild cases, your knee may take 2-4 weeks to recover fully. However, this is also dependent on how keenly you take your treatment. If you ignore the basic recuperation rules, there is a high likelihood that your knee may not recover, and if it does, it may do so with plenty of complications.
For surgery and severe cases of a hyperextended knee, it may take up to six months post-surgery for you to fully recover. It will also need an intense series of physical therapy to get your knees fully functional as before.
The pain you may experience from the hyperextended knee is beyond words. What’s more, it comes with a risk of long-term effects on your general performance. The ideal thing is to try your best to prevent the injury.
If you suspect an injury, ensure you consult a medical expert as soon as you can. Prolonging your visit to the doctor can only cause more harm than good. Remember to take your treatment seriously since any wrong move could result in adverse effects.
The most important thing to remember is that you can get back to your game no matter how serious your injury or pain! All it takes is patience and willpower to get better.