The leg is able to bend backward and back to a straight position with the help of the knee and the structures surrounding it. However, this typical movement becomes painful when there is a problem or injury to this specific joint. One, in particular, is the hyperextended (hyper–extended) knee injury.
A hyper extended knee occurs when an intense force or pressure causes the knee to bend backward. In severe cases, unbearable pain is a result of a strain or tear in the surrounding structures at the back of the joint such as muscles, ligaments, and cartilages.
This type of injury is common in athletes who run and jump. Typically, when they suddenly stop or hit the ground, the force causes a direct blow to the knee. However, even non-athletes may experience this condition. Thus, understanding this injury can help you prevent it. If you are experiencing a hyper–extended knee, various treatments are available.
How Do you Know if Having Hyperextended Knee?
Most of the time, signs and symptoms that you hyperextend your knees will appear within a few minutes after the injury occurs. However, you will know that you are having this type of injury if you heard or felt a popping sound in your knee(s). You may or may not feel any discomforts while walking or moving your leg.
From there, you can check the condition of your knee by standing sideways in front of a mirror and observe the alignment of your legs. Normally, your legs will be straight from the hip to the ankle. If you have got the knees hyperextended, there will be a curve in the affected leg.
Hyperextended Knee Symptoms
A few minutes after the injury, you will start to experience the signs and symptoms, which includes the following:
Depending on the severity of the injury, you may feel a mild or sharp ache in the front or back of the knee. If you are feeling an unbearable pain, it typically points to a torn ligament or cartilage.
- Unstable Knee
After the injury, most people observed that their knee is unstable and they have a difficulty standing up. Some describe this condition as a feeling that it’s about to give up or break.
- Bruising and Inflammation
Signs of bruising and swelling may appear immediately or after the injury occurred. Typically, warmth and redness in the affected area is a result of an increase in blood flow. Swelling occurs because of the increase in fluid and white blood cells that the body releases in response to an injury. When there is damage to the ligament or other structures, you will have some bruises in the injured area.
- Limited Motion
A knee hyperextension will result in limited movement of the affected leg because of swelling, pain, and weakness.
Treatment Options: What to Do
If you experienced this injury, you doctor will recommend various treatments depending on the severity of the condition, which may include the following:
a: Home Remedies and Surgery
The most common treatment for a hyperextended knee is R.I.C.E or rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
Rest: Resting your injured leg is the best way to get a fast recovery. If you participate in any sports, it is necessary to avoid high impact activities. Crutches can help minimize the weight you put on your knee. You can take medications such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium to ease swelling and pain.
Ice: If you do not want to take drugs or the drug is ineffective, ice application can help. Ice has a numbing effect that helps relieve an ache. It can also reduce swelling. You can apply ice on the affected for 20 minutes several times a day. It is important to wrap the ice with a cloth or towel to avoid skin irritation.
Compression: Wrapping your injured knee with an elastic bandage or compression wrap will help reduce swelling. When wrapping your knee, it should always be loose to avoid aggravating your condition.
Elevation: The injured leg should be kept elevated when you are lying down or sitting to help reduce swelling. Try to elevate it above your heart’s level. If you are lying down, you can place some pillows beneath your leg.
In severe situations, wherein there is damage to the structures surrounding the knees, you may need to undergo surgery. A surgeon will do a reconstructive surgery to repair the damaged structure like in cases of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. For some injuries, the surgeon will do arthroscopy, a less invasive kind of surgical procedure.
- Chiropractic Treatment
Seeking help from a qualified chiropractor is another viable option. Some of you may think that chiropractic therapy will only help problems with the spine. However, it can also help rehabilitate a knee injury.
b: Exercises for Hyperextended Knee
Doctors will recommend physical therapy after your recovery to regain the strength and mobility of the knee, which included the following exercises:
Forward step-ups is one of the best exercises to strengthen your knees and regain its mobility.
To do this exercise, you can stand in front of a stool or small chair. Bend your injured leg and position your foot on top of the stool. Press the top of the stool or chair with your foot while lifting your other leg and place your other foot on the stool. Keep in mind that the knee of your unaffected leg should not go beyond your toes. Return to your starting position. You can repeat this exercise until you are tired.
- Leg Raises
While lying down, bend your unaffected leg to a 30° angle and straighten your affected leg. Tighten your abs and try to raise your leg up to a 45° angle. Hold that position for few seconds and lower the leg. Repeat this exercise 10 times.
- Quarter Squats
Squats are excellent exercises to strengthen the knee and the structures surrounding it.
You can do this workout with the use of a chair for support. To do this exercise, stand beside or at the back of a chair and bend your knees. Afterward, lower your body slowly to a sitting position while maintaining a proper posture and slowly return to your standing position.
It is vital to make sure that your knees will not go beyond the tip of your toes. You should also avoid going deeper or lower if your knee is aching.
- Stationary Bike
Riding a stationary bike is another excellent exercise to improve your flexibility and strengthen your knee and leg muscles.
When doing this exercise, it is best to start gradually and for a short period only. You can prolong the activity and increase the intensity as your body becomes accustomed to the exercise.