What is Joint Hyperextension?
Joint hyperextension can be very painful and could change the intended movement and even the patient’s overall methods of handling regular tasks. Fortunately for the patient, when joints are hyperextended, practitioners of chiropractic care have the tools needed to help. When referring to joint hyperextension, the definition is one where joints have gained the detrimental ability to move beyond the normal range of motion, which will inevitably lead to an injury. Muscles and tendons also have the ability to become hyperextended.1
Joint Hyperextension vs Joint Hypermobility
Hyperextension differs from the term “hypermobility”, which is a physical flexibility that is also called “double jointed” or “loose joints”. Joint hypermobility syndrome is inherited, and it often is not found to be harmful and generally requires no treatment. In the cases where hypermobility causes pain, it usually affects the fingers, hips, elbows, and knees. Many children have hypermobility, naturally.2 Diagnosis of hypermobility is assessed on a scale called the Beighton scores, a range of numbers which go up to nine. Treatment of painful hypermobility includes physical therapy, activity modification, and pain relievers.3
Hyperextension, by contrast, is when a body part stretches beyond normal. Knees and elbows are some of the most commonly affected body parts. Some injuries may be temporary, but others can be permanent.4 When a joint is bent backwards, it is put under a lot of unnatural stress, which takes a toll on the unnaturally mobilized area. This occurrence of hyperextension may be from a movement that is voluntary, such as the patient’s participation in some form of strenuous or repetitive exercise. The hyperextension could also be due to a physically traumatic event, fall, or accident.5
Symptoms can include severe pain, swelling, stiffness, redness, and feeling sore in the damaged body part. The elbow, for example, which naturally moves like a hinge, is supported by ligaments and muscles. A strong blow, or backwards force, such as from contact sports, can lead to a hyperextension. Similar painful symptoms could also arise in other areas of the body if the patient has been improperly compensating for their injury for an extended period of time.6
Traditional Treatment Methods for Hyperextension
General care following the onset of hyperextension symptoms can include cold compresses, rest, physical therapy, and brace support. Patients are still encouraged to maintain a level of activity that they can handle, though care needs to be taken to not overwork the injured area of the body. In the worst cases of hyperextension, surgery may be required. A doctor will be able to determine if the patient truly needs such an invasive form of intervention.7
Sometimes injuries of hyperextension can heal themselves, provided that patients do not aggravate the injured area. RICE treatment (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) and NSAIDs (such as naproxen) can help provide relief, alleviate inflammation, and ease pain. These are not the only remedies available to the problem. Wearing a brace allows for graduated motion restoration, and physical therapy may be recommended during rehabilitation. Physical therapists will be able to evaluate the patient’s safe level of mobility and suggest regular stretches or exercises that will safely guide the injured body part back to strength and a safe range of mobility. Exercises for the elbow might include wrist flex, wrist extension, biceps contraction, and triceps contraction.8
Chiropractic Care as an Additional Treatment Option
Already, patients have a plethora of ways to heal their hyperextended body parts that do not rely on medications or invasive surgery. As a form of complementary and alternative medicine, chiropractic care can also help patients avoid medications and surgery and help to strengthen joints and educate the patient to prevent future injury. Traditional medical doctors, chiropractors, and physical therapists might even work together in the healing process.
In the case of a hyperextended knee, a chiropractor is likely to have a few ideas to recommend for adjustments that could be done to the knee, sacroiliac, and ankle joints. Soft tissue work, such as the SASTM technique, Graston technique, or Active Release (ART) may be employed in treatment. Chiropractors may also explore additional tools for recovery, which could include Kinesiotaping, laser, and guided stability work.9
In the case of a hyperextended elbow, chiropractors may recommend that the patient regularly applies ice to control inflammation, as well as interferential current and pulsed ultrasound, trigger point and cross-friction massage, joint manipulation, and they will assess the shoulders, hands, and wrists. Exercise, possibly with the aid of taping and bracing, may also be suggested. Exercises may include resistance training, free weights, and isometrics.10
Many DCs are specialists in athletic recovery and can be found through the American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians. It is important that patients research their local chiropractors, just as they would any other healthcare professional, to find out their credibility and certification in the use of treatment methods related to the patient’s condition.11
9, 11 http://en.allexperts.com/q/Chiropractors-965/2009/4/knee-injury-sport-related.htm
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