The Extension You Don’t Need

Knee joints go through a specific range of motion (ROM) during everyday movement and in more intense cases, like sports. Sometimes, the knee can bend backward or away from the body beyond the natural ROM. This occurrence is called knee hyperextension, a very painful and distressing injury. Most hyperextended knees occur after a fall or blow, especially in contact sports. Some cases are due to repetitive stress on the knee in activities like gymnastics, figure skating, or dancing. Hyperextended knees can benefit from various treatments and, in some cases, may require surgery. Understanding the extent of the injury is vital to taking appropriate action.


How severe is your hyperextension?

Ligaments and tendons secure the knee to prevent unnatural movement. With knee hyperextension, the tissues become stressed, leading to pain, swelling, and bruising. Movement becomes limited as the joint may be unstable, with the leg giving way when walking. Hyperextended knees also have a limited or painful ROM. An x-ray or imaging test can help determine the severity of the injury. An orthopedic surgeon or specialist can then recommend non-surgical, surgical, or a combination of treatments.

Does a hyperextended knee need surgery?

Most cases of hyperextension can benefit from non-surgical treatment lasting a few weeks. Pain medication, rest, icing, and physical therapy (PT) are the most common approaches. Consistent application of these techniques produces excellent results. Some people with knee hyperextension can brace the knee for additional support. If imaging tests reveal ligament or tissue damage, surgery may be necessary. Repairing the damage helps active people, like athletes, return to sports or other activities.

The surgical approach

An orthopedic surgeon will perform surgery if clear tissue or ligament damage does not heal with conservative treatment. For instance, a hyperextension causing an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear may require ACL reconstruction. A meniscus tear or tendon tear can also benefit from surgery. Surgery removes damaged tissue or reattaches frayed tendons. An orthopedic surgeon can approach surgery using minimally invasive techniques. With minimally invasive surgery (MIS), small incisions allow for a scope to access the joint. The scope relays an image to the surgeon using a tiny camera. The surgeon can then perform the necessary repairs using small surgical tools.

Bounce back quickly with orthopedic treatment

Most cases of knee hypertension can be addressed conservatively. If the knee shows no significant damage, some time is needed for rest, recovery, and healing. Should a knee hyperextension require surgery, a more extensive recovery may be necessary. A qualified orthopedic surgeon can assess the knee and provide the proper treatment. If a hyperextended knee is suspected, seek immediate treatment.

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