Hyperextension is the movement or extension of joints, tendons, or muscles beyond the normal limit or range of motion. When this happens, it may cause an injury, especially in athletes. Unlike hypermobility, which refers to being double-jointed, hyperextension is the stretching of a body part beyond what is normal. A person who is double-jointed has misaligned or abnormally shaped joints, and their hypermobility is a result. Extending a body part beyond its normal range is not intentional and often results in orthopedic injury.
Injuries due to hyperextension can occur in any part of the body and as a result of sports injury or accident. The most common joints affected by it are the knees and elbows. Depending on the extremeness of the movement, a joint or muscle may be temporarily injured and improve with time and physical therapy, or it may be a permanent injury. Most cases require only acute treatment such as cold compresses, rest, and brace support. In some cases, the over-extension may result in permanent injury that can only be corrected with surgery.
Many people who suffer this type of injury and visit a healthcare provider are given a brace to wear. This not only provides support to the injured joint, but also alleviates further pain while the injury heals. Extremely physical and contact sports are the most common culprit of such injuries. When the elbow, knee, finger, or even neck joints are bent the wrong way and extended beyond their normal range of motion, the result is painful. Some athletes wear braces as a preventative measure to either prevent the straining of a joint or to avoid aggravating an old injury.
Hyperextension can cause joint pain, swelling, and immobility. If the injury was moderate to severe, a medical professional will likely order imaging tests like X-rays or an MRI to assess the damage to the affected area. A patient might be referred to a physical therapist or an orthopedic specialist. Treatment depends upon the severity of the injury.