Fast facts on hyperextended knee:
- Female athletes are at higher risk than their male counterparts for a hyperextended knee injury.
- Doctors and physical therapists can often easily treat this injury by recommending the rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) method.
- In more extreme cases, a person with hyperextended knee may also have damage to the ligaments and other connective tissue in the knee, including the blood vessels and nerves.
A hyperextended knee may occur after high-impact events. Symptoms can include swelling, severe knee pain, and visible bruising.A hyperextended knee is often easy to spot when it happens. A person can often feel the knee bend backward out of line with the leg. When a hyperextended knee occurs, it is very likely the person will experience the following symptoms:
- moderate to severe knee pain
- instability in the knee
- feeling of weakness in the knee as if it is giving out
- visible bruising
- damaged ligaments
- weakness in knee
Using a brace when resting a hyperextended knee injury is recommended.Treatment for a hyperextended knee depends on how severe the injury is. Often, treatment begins with RICE. R — rest Following a hyperextended knee injury, it is a good idea to stop the activity that caused the damage in the first place. For an athlete, this may mean sitting out a few games. For the average person, rest may mean not walking on the injured leg or using a brace. During rest, a person may also:
- receive physical therapy to restore range of motion
- use pain medication
- use anti-inflammatory medication
Treatment for severe casesIn more extreme cases, a hyperextended knee will require surgery to fix the ligaments or alignment of the knee. A torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is the most common complication, but other tendons and structural supports can be damaged. The ACL is a pair of ligaments in the knee. It is possible that multiple areas of the knee will require surgery to repair.
RecoveryRecovery time from a knee injury varies. In less severe cases, a person may recover within 2 to 4 weeks from the time of the injury. During recovery, a person needs to avoid any activity that can make the injury worse. Also, a person should use the RICE method. If surgery is required, recovery is likely to take much longer. It can take 6 months or more to recover from surgery fully. Though it will take a long time, most people will see a full recovery. As part of the recovery process, a doctor will likely recommend physical therapy. Even if a person has had surgery, physical recovery is still required to restore muscle strength and range of motion.
Swimming may be recommended to increase strength following a hyperextended knee injury.There are many exercises that a person can do following a hyperextended knee injury. The goal of the exercises is to improve range of motion and increase strength. A person should discuss exercise options with their doctor or physical therapist. Some potential exercises that a person may do include:
- gentle hamstring stretches
- stationary bike
- straight leg raises
- wall sits
- lateral step-up
- quad sets — strengthening the quads (thigh muscles) by contracting, holding and releasing the muscles, placing a rolled towel under the knee for support if lying down