Hyperextended Knee: Causes, Treatment, and Recovery

Hyperextended knee injuries are normally experienced by professional athletes, but there are also possibilities wherein non-athletes and normal people may encounter them too. Which is why it is important to know about the injury, its causes, how to treat it, and how long the recovery will last.

athlete jumping over hurdle

Physical injuries are painful. They can happen to anyone but are most common to professional athletes and other physically active people. One example of physical injury is a hyperextended knee. It is inevitable in such a way that it is not only exercise or intense physical activities that can cause it, but even simple instances that can turn into accidents may cause the development of a hyperextended knee. However, what is this injury? Is there any way that we can avoid encountering it?

Hyperextended Knee: A Painful Injury

Athletes are very prone to physical injuries due to extreme exercises, training, and physical activities. When it comes to knee hyperextension, the most vulnerable athletes are those who are playing sports that are focused on leg strength such as soccer, lacrosse, skiing, and even football. So, how does this knee injury happen?

As the said active sports like soccer are known to be fast-paced sports that require fast running and agility, the leg is of high importance for the athletes of these games. Sometimes, it will be hard to avoid putting too much pressure on the legs or the knees when playing sports like soccer. When a player who runs at a very high speed and suddenly puts a stop to their feet, chances are their legs may get too much pressure from the break, and all those pressure then is passed on to the nearest joint, which is the knee. However, there are other causes of hyperextended knees which we will be discussing in a little while.

Although the injury is most likely to happen to professional athletes of the said types of sports, when it comes to the athletes’ gender, it is said that women encounter knee injury more compared to men. This observation was based on an article from the American Journal of Sports Medicine. More findings have concluded that this happens more to female athletes because they tend to have more unstable joints compared to male athletes.

Once this injury occurs, the knee joint is bent the other way; and it results in other conditions like severe swelling, damage to the tissue, and extreme pain. Not all cases of hyperextended knees are the same though, there are more severe ones that result in worse complications like ruptured and sprained ligaments.

What Are The Main Causes Of Hyperextended Knee?

The injury is most likely caused by sports-related accidents, although it is also possible to happen to non-athletes when their knees get affected by a strong impact.

Here are some of the common causes as to why the injury occurs to people:

  • A direct blow to the knee will probably result in hyperextension, especially if the blow is strong that it was able to bend the knee joints the other way.
  • Possibly, athletes who require a lot of jumping may also encounter the injury. Also, normal people who jumped and landed in a wrong position may get it too.
  • Sudden stop and deceleration after a very fast speed. The pressure from the stop is passed on to the knees as it gets bent and develops swelling or damaged ligaments.
  • Young children may also encounter the injury during their childhood because at their age they still have softer bones that can be broken or damaged easier than adults.
Hyperextended Knees Causes, Signs, Treatment And Recovery

Symptoms And How To Know

Once a person gets injured, it is not that hard to identify which area was affected. Especially in the case of a hyperextended knee, it can be easy to say if a person is suffering from the injury.

  • The knee looks unstable and irregular. There is a difference or a change in the appearance of the knee. There is also a feeling of difficulty when walking and unable to stand on one leg where the injured knee is.
  • A painful feeling in the knee. The specific knee area is painful because of the damage that was caused to the muscles and the ligaments. The pain may vary depending on how the injury was acquired or if it is mild or severe. The severe ones are more painful since there is already the involvement of torn and damaged ligaments.
  • It is hard to move. Mostly because once the person tries to move the affected knee, the pain will be felt more. Also, once the affected area gets inflamed there will be hindrances that will limit the movement of the knees.
  • Swollen area and there may be an appearance of bruises.

More often than not, the swelling will occur immediately or a few minutes after the injury. Bruises are also common but they do not appear all the time.

Treatment For Hyperextended Knee

For this kind of injury, the advisable and best step to take is to follow the R.I.C.E. way of treatment that is also used for other similar cases.


Take your time to temporarily stop being active by taking a rest from the sports activity. Also, rest is a common way to recover from different medical issues and it involves physical injuries. Give your body some of the well-deserved rest since it can also help in achieving a faster recovery process.


Use a cold compress or ice packs to relieve the pain and swelling. Try to limit the application to a maximum of 15 minutes.


You may use an elastic bandage to maintain and lessen the movements of the injured knee and it will also help relieve swelling and pain.


For the inflammation to subside, it is important to give the affected area a better blood circulation. The best thing to do is to elevate the leg above the position of the heart. You may do this by using soft pillows under your leg as you lie down to sleep.

It is possible to receive surgery when someone has hyperextended knee, but most of the time it only happens to very severe cases that include damaged and ruptured ligaments.

How Long Is The Recovery Period?

Normally, two to four weeks are enough for the recovery of mild to moderate hyperextended knee injuries. Getting involved in sessions of physical therapy can shorten the recovery period too. But in case of a severe injury that requires surgery, the recovery time can last up to six months.

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