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Quadriceps Tendon Rupture

Tendons are strong, dense, fibrous tissues that connect muscles with bones. The quadriceps tendon connects the quadricep muscles to the knee. A sudden contraction of quadriceps muscle when the knee is straightening can cause the quadriceps tendon to rupture.

Quadriceps Tendon Rupture Hero Image 2

Tendons are strong, dense, fibrous tissues that connect muscles with bones. The quadriceps tendon connects the quadricep muscles to the knee. 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 Quadriceps Tendon Rupture?

Quadriceps tendon ruptures usually result from a fall or blow to the knee. This injury can also happen as a result of force placed on the tendon when jumping or landing after a jump.

A sudden contraction of quadriceps muscle when the knee is straightening can cause the quadriceps tendon to rupture. This type of injury is more common among older athletes who play sports that involve running and jumping, such as basketball. When the quadriceps tendon becomes inflamed, referred to as tendonitis, the tendon weakens and becomes more susceptible to a rupture.

Sports commonly associated with quadriceps tendon ruptures are:
Running
Basketball
Soccer
Volleyball

Symptoms

A quadriceps tendon rupture is characterized by a tearing or popping sensation. Usually this injury prevents you from straightening your knee. Symptoms associated with quadricep tendon ruptures include:

• Sudden severe pain
• Swelling just above the knee
• Kneecap may sag or droop because the tendon is torn

When to see a doctor

If you are experiencing these symptoms, it is important to see your doctor. He/she will want to inspect your knee, checking for swelling and bruising, and test to see if you can straighten your leg.

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

Surgical Treatment

For athletes, surgery is generally recommended for quadriceps tendon ruptures to regain full knee function and the ability to resume play. Surgery allows for the reattachment of the ruptured tendon to the kneecap. This operation is usually performed as an outpatient procedure, meaning that you can go home the same day.

You will do better if you have the surgery soon after your injury to minimize the accumulation of scar tissue. Tendons also can grow shorter as time progresses after the rupture, making them difficult to reattach.

Recovery

Full recovery and return to play can take six to twelve months. Your doctor will develop a plan with you for your recovery after surgery. Usually, this involves immobilization for four to six weeks, followed by physical therapy to regain the range of motion in your joint and regain strength.

It is important that you fully recover with full range of motion and strength prior to returning to your regular activities and play.

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