Tendons are strong cords of fibrous tissue that attach muscles to bones. The patellar tendon functions with the muscles in the front of our thigh to straighten our leg.
A patellar tendon connects the bottom of the kneecap to the top of the shinbone. It is often also known as patellar ligament, as the structure that connects one bone to another is known as a ligament.
A patellar tendon tear can be classified into two categories, partial and complete. A partial tendon tear does not disrupt the tendon and is quite similar to a rope that gets frayed when stretched too much but remains intact. A complete tendon tear is when the tendon gets completely torn, and is separated from the kneecap. Without this, it becomes impossible to straighten our knees.
- Injuries: A patellar tendon can only be torn due to an extremely strong force of impact such as during a fall when the knee is directly impacted or some other form of blow to the knee.
- Tendon weaknesses: A weak tendon is highly likely to get injured. This weakness could be due to patellar tendinitis, a condition where an inflammation of the tendon weakens it. Chronic diseases that disrupt blood flow can also weaken the tendons, such as high cholesterol, rheumatoid arthritis, and so on.
- An indentation at the bottom of the kneecap where the tendon is torn
- The kneecap may move up to the thigh as it is no longer attached to the shinbone
- Difficulty in walking as the knee gets locked
The doctor will begin with a medical and physical examination, after which if they are unsure of the diagnosis, they may request for an imaging test such as an X-ray or MRI, to confirm the diagnosis.
A small or partial tendon tear can be treated with non-surgical treatment, such as immobilization of the knee with the help of braces that will keep the leg straight and give it time to heal. The doctor might also recommend physical therapy once the pain and swelling have gone down. The exercises will be aimed at strengthening the knee and restoring the range of motion.
In cases involving a complete tendon tear, surgery might be required to regain knee function.
Call us today for a consultation. Our very own specialist, Dr Debashish Chanda is at your service to assist you.