What is a Patella Tendon Rupture?
Rupture of the patella tendon, which connects the kneecap (patella) to the front of the tibia (shin bone) at the tibial tuberosity, is an extremely painful injury. A patella tendon rupture usually occurs in individuals who have a history of patellar tendon injury such as jumper’s knee, which tends to weaken the patellar tendon. In most cases, the patella tendon ruptures at the lower end of the patella.
Symptoms of a Patella Tendon Rupture
At the time a patella tendon rupture occurs, individuals may hear a “pop” accompanied by extreme pain. Other symptoms include swelling of the knee, an inability to put weight on the knee, and an inability to straighten the knee or hold it in a straightened position.
Treatment of a Patella Tendon Rupture
Immediate action after a patella tendon rupture includes RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are recommended for pain and to reduce swelling, and a doctor or sports injury professional should be consulted as soon as possible.
Surgery is necessary to repair a patellar tendon rupture. After surgery, patients will be given a rehabilitation plan that usually includes little or no weight-bearing on the affected knee and wearing a knee brace for about six weeks. Once the knee brace is removed, patients can begin exercises that focus on regaining full range of movement and reestablishing strength in the quadriceps. In most cases, athletes can return to sports between 6 and 12 months.