A quadriceps tendon tear is an injury that arises once the tendon attaching the quadriceps muscles to the kneecap is torn. The tear might be partial or complete.
The injury can arise at any sport such as basketball that might involve landing awkwardly on one leg or jumping. It can also occur during traumatic injuries such as in vehicular accidents.
Middle-aged adults especially over the age of 40 who engage in sports and other physical activities are likely to end up with the injury.
What are the risk factors?
The usual risk factors for a quadriceps tendon tear include:
- Engaging in certain sports such as football, basketball and track and field.
- Quadriceps tendinitis that was not properly treated
- Previous thigh or knee injuries
- Corticosteroid injections into the quadriceps tendon
- Lack of proper warm-up before exercise or sports
- Loss of flexibility and strength in the tendons and muscles that support the knees due to immobilization
What are the signs?
The usual symptoms of a quadriceps tendon tear might include:
- Difficulty walking
- Pain and tenderness above the knee
- Cramping sensations
- Difficulty straightening the leg
- Evident swelling above the knee
- Perceivable popping sound at the time of injury
Management of a quadriceps tendon tear
When dealing with a quadriceps tendon tear, it is managed both conservatively or surgically. Remember that the treatment is usually based on the seriousness of the injury.
The conservative measures for a quadriceps tendon tear might include:
- Adequate rest – any activity that worsens the injury must be avoided. The individual is instructed to avoid any activities until the symptoms settle.
- Ice – applying an ice pack on the knee can help lessen the pain and swelling.
- Elevation – raising the affected leg can help reduce the swelling
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – these pain medications can be given to lessen the knee pain
- Physical therapy – the exercises can help restore strength and flexibility in the muscles
In case the injury is severe, it requires surgical intervention specifically quadriceps tendon repair. This procedure involves reattachment of the ripped tendon to the upper part of the kneecap using sutures.
More Information / Disclaimer
The information posted on this page on a quadriceps tendon tear is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize the indications of the injury by taking a standard first aid course with Vancouver First Aid.