Guide to Patellar Tendon Tear
The patellar tendon connects your kneecap to the muscles in the front of your thigh. This fibrous tissue plays a key role in the straightening of your leg, so when it tears, your mobility will be restricted and some daily tasks can become challenging. This type of knee injury is relatively common in athletes, but it can also occur in those who are not overly active. A patellar tendon tear can occur as a result of a fall, and it can also occur when a person has weak tendons. Certain underlying health conditions, such as diabetes, metabolic disease, and rheumatoid arthritis, can leave you susceptible to tendon weakness. Here's an overview of the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options for a patellar tendon tear.
Usually, those who experience this injury will feel the tendon tearing and immediately experience knee swelling and pain. Other symptoms of a patellar tendon tear include localised bruising, tenderness and a palpable indentation at the site of the tear. In severe cases, the kneecap may move out of position.
Diagnosis and Treatment Options
Your doctor will diagnose you with a patellar tendon tear by taking details of your symptoms and carrying out a knee exam. During the exam, they may manipulate your knee and leg into different positions or ask you to do gentle exercises to allow them to establish the extent of the problem. Additionally, diagnostic imaging, such as an X-ray or MRI, may be used to determine the extent to the tear and establish whether there's any damage to the surrounding tissue.
Your doctor will recommend a treatment plan based on the severity of your symptoms. Treatment may include a period of rest and anti-inflammatories or pain medication. You may be referred for physiotherapy, and your physiotherapist will provide targeted exercises to build strength in your knee and improve mobility. They may also provide you with a custom-made knee brace to provide support when you are on your feet.
When conservative treatment options have been unsuccessful, surgery may be recommended to improve knee function. Your surgeon will reattach the tendon to the kneecap and surgical wires or cables may be used to hold the kneecap in position and prevent further strain being placed on the tendon.
If you develop a patellar tendon tear, have your knee examined at a knee rehabilitation clinic near you. The sooner treatment is started the shorter the recovery time tends to be.