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Patella Tendon Rupture

Tendons are strong, dense, fibrous tissues that connect muscles with bones. The patella tendon connects the kneecap to the shin bone. This tendon works with the quadriceps muscles to straighten the knee Patella tendon ruptures usually result from a fall or blow to the knee. This injury can also happen due to the force placed on the tendons when jumping or landing after a jump

Patella Tendon Rupture Hero Image 2

Tendons are strong, dense, fibrous tissues that connect muscles with bones. The patella tendon connects the kneecap to the shin bone. This tendon works with the quadriceps muscles to straighten the knee. Its proper function is essential to performing motion needed for many sports, such as running and jumping.

What causes Patella Tendon Rupture?

Patella tendon ruptures usually result from a fall or blow to the knee. This injury can also happen due to the force placed on the tendons when jumping or landing after a jump. Patella tendon rupture is more common among athletes 40 and younger. Inflammation of the patella tendon, called patellar tendonitis or “jumper’s knee,” weakens the tendon, making ruptures more likely.

Sports commonly associated with patella tendon ruptures are:

• Running
• Basketball
• Soccer
• Volleyball

Symptoms

Athletes who experience patella tendon rupture often feel a tearing or popping sensation. Typically, this injury prevents you from straightening your knee. Symptoms associated with patellar tendon ruptures include:

• Severe pain and swelling at inferior area of the kneecap
• Kneecap may move up into the thigh because it is no longer connected to the shinbone
• Difficulty walking
• Bruising

When to see a doctor

Athletes who undergo an injury resulting in these symptoms should immediately seek medical treatment. During the physical examination, your doctor will inspect your knee to check for swelling and bruising. You will also be asked to try to straighten your leg.

Your doctor may order diagnostic tests, such as an x-ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. These tests can help confirm a diagnosis or determine if another type of injury is causing your symptoms.

Surgical Treatment

Patella tendon ruptures generally require surgery to reattach the ruptured tendon to the kneecap. This operation is usually performed as an outpatient procedure, meaning that you can go home the same day.

Following surgery, most athletes regain full knee function and the ability to resume play. However, you should undergo surgery soon after your injury before scar tissue begins to develop. Tendons also can grow shorter as time progresses after the rupture, making them difficult to reattach.

Recovery

With proper treatment, most athletes can expect to achieve a full recovery, though this process can take six to twelve months before a return to play. Recovery plans for patella tendon rupture usually involve wearing a splint or leg cast to immobilize your knee for four to six weeks so tissues can heal. Physical therapy typically follows to regain the range of motion in your joint and build strength.

Your doctor will work with you to develop a rehabilitation plan that is customized to meet your individual needs. He/she will assess your progress to ensure you are ready to return to your regular activities and your sport.

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