Your patellar tendon is a tendon connecting your tibia to your patella. It is located right below your knee cap, and is important in any basic function that involves your lower body. Tendons are the fibrous tissues that enable body movement by attaching the bones to the muscle. A torn patellar tendon will result in a tear of the patellar tendon, limiting your ability to walk, run, and perform more athletic activities.
Patellar Tendon Tears
The severity of your injury and recovery depends on the type of tear. There are two torn patellar tendon types.
These tears are considered the overstretching of the tendon. Recovery in case of partial tears takes about 2-3 weeks.
In the most severe of cases, the tendon is split into two parts. The split generally occurs at the kneecap joint often as a result of tendonitis. Recovery can take 2-3 months.
Here are a few reasons that can cause a torn patellar tendon.
- A direct blow to the knee region like a football tackle.
- A fall from a greater height.
- Awkward jumps or bad landings after a huge jump
- Weakens caused in the tendons due to Tendonitis (a common issue experienced by runners or high jumpers etc.)
- Chronic diseases such as Hyper abetalipoproteinemia, Rheumatoid arthritis, Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) or Diabetes mellitus.
- Constant use of medicines such as corticosteroids and anabolic steroids.
If you’re not sure whether you have a torn patellar tendon, here are the symptoms that indicate a possible tear.
- Bruising and tenderness around the knee joint
- Knee buckling every time weight is put on it.
- Kneecap shifting close to the thigh bone
- Experiencing cramps every time you walk
Diagnoses Of A Torn Patellar Tendon
The first and foremost thing done by a physician is a physical exam. During this, there may be a need to bend or pressure the knee joint which can be slightly painful. The physician will also want details about any injuries in the past.
Next up, you’ll be sent for an X-Ray. In most cases, X-Rays are conclusive enough but if the damage seems to be severe you might also need to go in for an MRI.
MRI gives intricate details of the damage which gives the physician an exact idea of the severity of the tear.
Depending on the severity of the injury you may or may not require a surgery.
This type of treatment revolves mostly around icing the joint regularly i.e. every 4-5 hours for about 20 minutes. This will kill the pain and inflammation. The physician might also subscribe pills for the same. At this stage, you might be asked to use crutches or a knee brace to walk.
Once that subsides the next step is physiotherapy which involves special exercises so your joint and muscles regain the strength. As the injury starts to heal you can say goodbye to the crutches and brace and take up those exercises up a notch.
In case of a complete tear, a surgery is the only viable option. During the surgery, the tendon is re-attached to the kneecap either by tying or by using implants. For added protection, wires and cables might be used as well which will be later removed during a second minor surgery.