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Bone & Joint Health

Managing joint hyperextension injuries

02 June 2023 · 5 mins read

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Learn more about the symptoms, risk factors, treatment, and prevention of joint hyperextension injuries.

When a joint is forced beyond its normal range of motion in the opposite direction of its normal flexion, joint hyperextension injury will happen. This type of injury can damage the joint, ligaments, tendons, and other soft tissues surrounding the joint.

Joint hyperextension injuries commonly occur to individuals participating in sports that involve jumping, landing, or sudden changes in direction, such as basketball, football, and soccer. These injuries can also occur in daily activities such as missing a step on the stairs.

The common joint hyperextension injuries are:

  1. Hyperextension of the ankle joint

    This injury occurs when the ankle joint is extended beyond its normal range of motion. It is commonly seen in sports that involve jumping or sudden changes in direction, such as basketball or soccer.

  2. Hyperextension of the knee joint

    This injury occurs when the knee is bent backwards beyond its normal range of motion. Common injuries include anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), and meniscal tears.

  3. Hyperextension of the elbow joint

    This injury occurs when the elbow joint is extended beyond the normal range of motion due to sudden forceful trauma or from repetitive stress of the joint.

  4. Hyperextension of the shoulder joint

    This injury occurs when the shoulder joint is hyperextended. It is commonly seen in sports that involve overhead movements, such as volleyball or swimming.

  5. Hyperextension of the fingers

    This injury occurs when the fingers are bent backwards beyond the normal range of motion. Common finger hyperextension injuries include sprains and dislocations.

Joint hyperextension injuries risk factors

  1. With aging, our joints may become less flexible and more susceptible to hyperextension injuries.
  2. Poor or improper technique during participation in high-impact activities such as running, gymnastics, racquet sports and martial arts may cause excessive strain on the joints and increase the risk of hyperextension injuries.
  3. Weak muscles around the joints may increase the risk of hyperextension injuries due to inadequate support and stability.
  4. Previous injury may weaken the ligaments and tissues around the joint, making them more susceptible to hyperextension injuries.
  5. Joint laxity or having unstable joints may be cause an individual to be more susceptible to joint hyperextension injuries.

Joint hyperextension injuries symptoms

Common symptoms include the following:

  • Pain
  • Joint swelling
  • Bruising
  • Stiffness
  • Muscle spasm
  • Joint instability

However, symptoms may vary depending on the severity of the injury.

Joint hyperextension injuries diagnosis

Your doctor would first question your general health and symptoms before conducting a thorough physical examination. Diagnosis is made based on your reported symptoms, physical examination, and investigations.

Imaging tests may be used to evaluate the severity of the injury and help identify any fractures, dislocations, or other structural damage that may have occurred due to the injury. These tests include X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Joint hyperextension injuries treatment options

Treatment for a hyperextended joint injury depends on the severity of the injury, the joint involved, and other factors such as age, overall health, and activity level.

In general, treatment for a hyperextended joint injury may include the following:

  1. PRICE - Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation

    PRICE is a common approach for the first two or three days.

    • Protection: The use of protective support such as an elastic bandage, splint, or cast, depending on the extent of the injury.
    • Rest: Limit weight bearing and avoid activities that may aggravate the injury.
    • Ice: Apply ice packs to the affected area for at least 15 to 20 minutes, several times a day, until swelling improves.
    • Compression: To reduce swelling and support the joint by wrapping the affected joint with an elastic bandage.
    • Elevation: Keep the affected joint above the level of the heart to reduce swelling.
  2. Medication: Pain and swelling can be managed with oral or topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen.
  3. Physiotherapy: Range of motion exercises only after the acute pain and swelling have subsided.

However, if the injured joint remains swollen or painful for several days despite the measures above, you need to be evaluated by an orthopaedic specialist to ensure there is no fracture and to determine the suitable treatment option.

Joint hyperextension injuries prevention

  1. Engage in adequate stretching, warming up, and use proper techniques when participating in high-impact activities.
  2. Let your joints have adequate rest and recovery time between workouts and activities because overuse of the joints can increase the risk of hyperextension injuries.
  3. Avoid standing on countertops, chairs, or tables when reaching for things. Always use the right tools or equipment.
  4. Wear supportive shoes to provide additional support for the joints and reduce the risk of hyperextension injuries.

Book an appointment at Gleneagles Hospitals

The caring and multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals are available for consultation and to provide the best care. Get in touch with us to book an appointment with an Orthopaedic specialist at Gleneagles Hospital today.

If you encounter a situation that requires medical treatment or major trauma, please seek immediate medical attention at the Accident and Emergency (A&E) department at your nearest Gleneagles Hospital. The team of skilled emergency physicians, nurses, and support staff is available 24/7 to provide immediate care and support.

References

  1. What is a hyperextended knee? Available at https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320454 [Accessed on 9 February 2023]
  2. What is a finger hyperextension injury? Available at https://www.physio.co.uk/what-we-treat/musculoskeletal/conditions/hand/hyperextension-injury.php [Accessed on 9 February 2023]

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