Patella and Quadriceps Tendonitis and Tears2016-10-12T12:39:55-04:00

Patella and Quadriceps Tendonitis and Tears


Inflammation of the Quadriceps or Patella Tendon

Inflammation of the quadriceps tendon, also known as quadriceps tendinitis, weakens the tendon. The inflammation may also cause small tears. Quadriceps tendinitis is most common in people who run and participate in sports that involve jumping.

Tendons are strong bands of fibrous tissue that attach muscles to bones. The quadriceps tendon works with the muscles in the front of your thigh to straighten your leg. Small tears in the tendon can make it challenging to walk and participate in other daily activities. A large tear of the quadriceps tendon is a disabling injury. It usually requires surgery and physical therapy to regain full knee function. Quadriceps tendon tears are not common, mostly occurring in middle-aged people who play jumping sports or due to trauma. Similar symptoms can develop in the patella tendon that attaches the kneecap to the shin.

Symptoms of Quadriceps or Patella Tendon Tear

A quadriceps or patella tendon tears is often associated with a tearing or popping sensation. Pain and swelling typically follow, and you may not be able to straighten your knee. Additional symptoms include:

  • A depression below the kneecap and high riding patella for a patella tendon tear.
  • For a quadricep tear, a depression at the top of your kneecap in the area where the tendon tore.
  • Bruising
  • Tenderness
  • Cramping
  • Your kneecap may sag or droop because the tendon is torn
  • Difficulty walking due to the knee buckling or giving way

Nonsurgical Treatment for Quadriceps Tendonitis and Tears

Nonsurgical treatment for a partial quadriceps or patella tendon tear will include:

  • Immobilization. It may be recommended that you wear a knee immobilizer or brace. This will keep your knee straight to help it heal. You will most likely need crutches to avoid weight bearing for a period of time. You can expect to be in a knee immobilizer or brace for 3 to 6 weeks.
  • Physical therapy. A physical therapy regime can begin once the initial pain and swelling has resolved. You will learn specific exercises that will strengthen and restore your range of motion. You will be taught many exercises that will aid in the healing and restoration of your knee function. Straight leg raises to strengthen your quadriceps are often critical to a physical therapy plan.
  • Unlocking your brace. As your recovery progresses, your doctor or therapist will unlock your brace. This will allow you to move more freely with a greater range of motion. You will be prescribed more strengthening exercises as you heal. Your doctor will discuss with you when it is safe to return to sports activity.

Surgical Treatment for Quadriceps Tendonitis and Tears

Surgical repair reattaches the torn tendon to the top or bottom of the kneecap. The sooner the surgical repair is performed after the injury, the better the outcome. Early repair prevents the tendon from scarring and tightening into a shortened position. Surgical considerations may include:

  • Hospital stay. Although tendon repairs are sometimes done on an outpatient basis, some¬†patients do stay in the hospital one night after this operation. This will depend on your medical needs.
  • Procedure. To reattach the tendon, sutures are placed in the tendon and then threaded through drill holes in the kneecap. The surgeon will carefully tie the sutures to get the right tension in the tendon. With careful precision your surgeon will make sure the position of the repaired kneecap closely matches that of your uninjured kneecap.

Sideline Orthopedics knows how important daily activities are to your quality of life. We are dedicated to helping you heal fully and to restoring the function of your knee so you can retain your quality of life.

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