What is a hyperextended knee?

A hyperextended knee injury occurs when the ligaments are stretched beyond their normal range of motion, resulting in a strain or even a tear in the ligament tissue. A person who hyperextends their knee usually notices the injury right away; an individual may feel a popping sensation and note immediate pain and swelling. Depending on the severity of a hyperextended knee injury, a person may not be able to walk or put weight on the injured leg for several days after the accident. Doctors generally recommend that patients get plenty of rest, occasionally ice their knees, and do light exercises to regain flexibility and strength. Surgery may be necessary if the knee does not heal properly or if a ligament is completely torn.

A knee can become hyperextended when it is twisted or bent in an awkward way. Knee injuries are very common in high-intensity sports when athletes make sudden turns or stop immediately. When too much stress is placed on the knee ligaments, they can become strained or torn, leading to inflammation and severe pain. A strained ligament is generally considered a minor injury, and symptoms usually go away after about two weeks. A severely torn ligament, especially the anterior cruciate ligament, is extremely painful and often requires months of surgery and rehabilitation to heal.

The first symptoms of a hyperextended knee are a popping or popping sensation as the ligament is stretched beyond its normal range of motion, followed by pain and swelling. Even a minor injury can cause the knee to feel as if it is locked, making it difficult or even impossible to bend and straighten. Severe pain and swelling usually persist for several days after an untreated injury, and a damaged knee can appear out of line with the rest of the leg.

A person who believes they have a hyperextended knee should see a doctor right away to inspect the severity of the ligament damage and recommend treatment. The doctor will perform a physical exam and possibly take x-rays to check for problems. For minor strains, a doctor will usually suggest prescription or over-the-counter pain medications and anti-inflammatory medications, and instruct the patient to rest the knee as much as possible for about a week.

If a ligament has been torn, the doctor usually arranges surgical procedures and follow-up physical therapy. A surgeon may perform an arthroscopic procedure or cut into the knee to examine the damage and decide the best way to repair a torn ligament. Reconstruction surgery is a common procedure in which the surgeon removes a less essential ligament from the knee or another part of the body and places it in the place of the torn ligament. After surgery for a hyperextended knee, it is common to take up to nine months of rehabilitation physical therapy sessions to regain strength.

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