The patella tendon is prone to rupture among individuals who have a history of injury such as jumper’s knee or deterioration due to age. It is important to note that the patella functions as a lever arm for the quadriceps muscles.
Any injury can weaken the patella tendon and once strong eccentric quadriceps contraction occur, usually from landing from a jump, the tendon might snap or rupture, typically at the inferior end of the patella.
What are the signs?
A patella tendon rupture generally results to intense knee pain that can be accompanied by a perceivable “popping” sound at the time of injury. There is also swelling of the knee, especially at the base of the joint over the tendon.
The individual could not place any weight on the knee or hold the joint in a straight position.
Management of a patella tendon rupture
The RICE method must be started right away. Adequate rest must be observed and protect the joint from further injury. Cold therapy must be started as soon as possible after the injury. An ice pack must be applied for 10 minutes every hour during the initial 24-48 hours.
The doctor might prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for relief from the pain and swelling. It is best to seek medical attention if the injury causes intense pain or disrupts normal walking.
Once the patella tendon is fully ruptured across its width, surgery is necessary to fix the damage. In most cases, it involves stitching of the torn tendon. After surgery, a rehabilitation program is started which involves minimal or no weightbearing on the affected knee along with a knee brace to prevent movement.
When the brace is taken out, exercises to restore complete range of motion must be carried out along with strengthening of the quadriceps muscles. It is important to note that the rehabilitation from a rupture is a slow process and can approximately between 6-12 months before the individual can return to sports.