Hyperextended knee injuries common in athletes

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Hyperextended knee

Philadelphia football player DeSean Jackson reportedly hyper-extended his right knee during Saturday morning's practice. The injury is not expected to be serious, but hyperextended knee injuries are all too common among athletes. DeSean Jackson’s knee injury occurred when he fell backwards and became tangled up with another player during practice.

Hyperextended knee injuries vary in severity. It occurs when the knee is forced backwards. Dancers, volleyball players, gymnasts, and those who jump and make contact during sports are vulnerable to hyperextension of the knee.


The most common symptom of a hyperextended knee injury is pain and swelling, treated initially with rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE) until more information can be gleaned about the injury. Knee instability may not be immediately apparent because of swelling.

The ACL ligament (anterior cruciate ligament) can be torn when the knee is hyperextended, leading to a more serious injury. The tear can be partial or complete. Surgery might be required, followed by physical therapy and six to nine months recovery time before engaging in sports activity.

Most hyperextended knee injuries, not involving a tear to the ligament, require about two to four weeks of rest. A knee brace can be used for hyperextended knee injuries to help with stability and further risk of injury.

Exercise is great for your health, but it is hard on the knees – one of our weakest links. Football is demanding on the knees, and hyperextended knee injuries are common among athletes. Evaluating a knee injury might take time. A physical exam and MRI can help determine the extent of injury and treatment plan for a hyperextended knee injury.