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An Overview: Patellar Tendon Injuries

patellar tendon

Dr. Thomas Wickiewicz, Orthopedic Surgeon, offers his expertise on injuries to the patellar tendon.

What is the patellar tendon?

The patellar tendon connects the knee cap (patella) to the shin bone (tibial tubercle). The role of the patellar tendon is to work with the muscles in front of your thigh in order to straighten your leg. Injuries to the patellar tendon prove to be very significant because you would be unable to straighten your leg, let alone be able to stand. The knee would collapse because you are unable to bear the weight on your leg.

What are some of the causes of patellar tendon injuries?

One of the main causes of injuries to the patellar tendon is that too much of a load is applied to the tendon in a particular instance, resulting in the tendon to fail. For example, enough tension to a rope will cause the rope to break. Another cause of patellar tendon injuries happens as a result of degeneration in the tendon prior to a rupture.

What is the best course of treatment? What is the recovery time?

For complete tears to the patellar tendon, the only course of treatment would be surgical care. With this form of injury, especially in sports, surgery is essential in ensuring the best course of recovery. In terms of recovery, you would be able to return to physical activity in 9 months to a year. Following surgery, it usually takes 6 to 8 weeks for the tendon to heal. Rehabilitation to the patellar tendon can begin after healing.

Who is prone to these kinds of injuries?

By and large, patellar tendon injuries often occur in sports as it is considered to be an uncommon, but severe injury. For example, an athlete may slip or fall backwards, thus resulting in a ruptured tendon. Patellar tendon injuries do occur in older individuals. However, they are more prone to quadriceps injuries than patellar tendon injuries.

Dr. Thomas L. Wickiewicz, HSS Orthopedic SurgeonDr. Thomas Wickiewicz is an Orthopedic Surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery. He specializes in sports medicine, meniscus surgery, ACL surgery, and shoulder surgery. He spent eight years as Assistant Team Physician for the New York Giants, and he now serves as the Head Team Physician for all Division 1A College sports at St. Peter’s University. Dr. Wickiewicz has published over 100 scientific papers on his extensive research on knee and shoulder surgery and given more than 200 invited presentations.

The information provided in this blog by HSS and our affiliated physicians is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of HSS. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.