Hyperextended Knee

Understanding Causes and Treatments for a Hyperextended Knee


A hyperextended knee is a type of knee injury that involves the ligaments.  In this case, ligaments in the knee have been stretched out well beyond the normal range of motion.  As a result, the ligaments are strained or in severe cases, they can tear.  Although the exact feeling when a knee becomes hyperextended would depend on the degree of the injury, most people experience a popping sound, which is followed by swelling and pain.

Typically, when a person has a hyperextended knee, putting any kind of weight on the leg or even trying to walk would be very difficult for days, possibly weeks.  If the ligaments were merely stretched, the patient would be advised to keep weight off the leg, elevate the leg, and keep it iced.  In most cases, the stretched ligaments would heal without major medical intervention over time.  However, if the ligaments were severely stretched or torn, surgery might be possible.

The most common causes of a hyperextended knee have to do with the more intense sports or heavy workouts.  For instance, someone playing competitive or professional baseball might take a plate too tight, which causes the knee to bend or twist wrong.  Another example would be someone working out in the gym that decides to use weights that are too heavy, which again causes the knee to bend wrong.

Even if the individual believes the hyperextended knee is minor, it would probably be best to have a doctor check.  Sometimes, the damage may not appear major at first but if left untreated, the ligament damage could worsen.  Additionally, sometimes telling a stretched ligament from an injured muscle is difficult.  To determine the degree of injury, the doctor would likely perform an x-ray and perhaps an MRI or CAT scan.  If the ligament were merely strained, the individual would be prescribed anti-inflammatory and pain medication, along with plenty of rest.

On occasion, the affected knee might lock into place or the person might find straightening the leg out impossible.  It is important to know that once a person experiences a hyperextended knee, the chance of the same injury is high.  Doctors suggest that if the symptoms of this kind of injury continue longer than two to four hours, a doctor should be seen.  This is important in that not having a hyperextended knee cared for could allow Osteoarthritis to develop.

If the person works outside the home, goes to school, or needs to get around, the doctor might recommend crutches.  However, the goal is to stay off a hyperextended knee so the damaged ligaments would have proper rest and time to heal.  Remember, putting weight on the leg or trying to use it before healing is complete could lead to further damage.  However, if the person follows the doctor’s orders and shows patience so the stretched ligament can heal, a hyperextended leg will usually do well although sometimes, people find that wearing a knee brace to play sports or work out provides needed support and eliminates discomfort.



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