The patellar tendon is responsible for connecting the kneecap to the shin bone. When an incomplete rupture of this tendon occurs, it is often due to a jumping motion or forceful load on the tendon.
What are the symptoms?
It is important to note that cases of patellar tendon ruptures are very painful and can be accompanied by a perceivable popping sound at the time of injury. There is swelling of the knee, especially at the base of the knee over the tendon. The individual will not be able to put any weight on the knee or maintain the knee in a straightened position.
Close look on a patella tendon rupture
The patella tendon connects the patella to the front part of the tibia at a protuberance known as the tibial tuberosity. It has the function to act as a lever arm for the quadriceps muscles. The quadriceps inserts into the upper surface of the patella and when contracted, pulls on the patella to straighten the knee joint.
The patella tendon is susceptible to rupture among individuals who have previous patellar tendon injury such as jumper’s knee or even deterioration due to age. The injuries will weaken the patella tendon and in case of robust eccentric quadriceps contraction where the muscles contracts while lengthening, the patella tendon might snap at the inferior end of the patella.
Corticosteroid injections that are administered to deal with the inflammation seen among injuries similar to jumper’s knee are known to increase the risk of a patella tendon rupture.
You have to apply the RICE method as soon as possible. It is important to rest and protect the knee from further injury. The application of an ice pack is advised as soon as possible after the injury. The ice pack should not be applied directly to the skin but utilize a damp tea towel. The ice pack can be applied for 10 minutes every hour for the initial 24-48 hours depending on the severity of the injury.
The doctor will prescribe NSAIDs or anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen to relieve the pain and reduce the swelling. It is important to seek medical care especially if the injury causes a lot of pain or prevents the individual from walking properly. To learn to recognize and manage a variety of joint injuries including patella tendon rupture, enroll in a first aid training with a credible provider near you.
Once the patellar tendon is completely ruptured across its width, it would require surgical intervention in order to repair the damage. The surgery typically involves suturing of the torn tendon.
Right after surgery, the individual is advised to start a specific rehabilitation plan which typically involves minimal or no weight-bearing on the affected knee as well as using a knee brace to prevent it from bending. This should be worn for more than 6 weeks.
Once the knee brace is removed, exercises to regain full range of movement and establish strength of the quadriceps muscle group must be performed. The rehabilitation from a patellar tendon rupture is very slow and usually takes between 6-12 months before the individual is able to return to sports.