What Are the Types of Tendon Ruptures?
Tendons are connective tissue in the knee joint that connect muscle to bone. Regarding the knee specifically there are several main tendons of note. These are the patellar tendon, quadriceps tendon and hamstring tendons. When a tendon is overloaded by an external force, they have the possibility of tearing or rupturing, either partially or completely. When these injuries occur, they can create chronic knee pain for patients. Patellar tendon ruptures are seen more in younger patients while quadriceps tendon ruptures are more common for patients who are over 40-years-old.
Patellar tendon and rupture
The patellar tendon is part of the band of tissue that connects the thigh muscle to the kneecap and then down to the shin bone. The part of this band of tissue inferior to the kneecap connecting it to the shin bone is the patellar tendon. With a patellar tendon rupture, you will feel pain below the kneecap, losing the ability to move the kneecap voluntarily when contracting the quadriceps.
Quadriceps Tendon and Rupture
The quadriceps tendon connects the distal end of the quad muscle to the kneecap. A ruptured quadriceps tendon will cause pain to be felt superiorly to the kneecap. A contraction of the quadriceps will not bring the patella superiorly as it normally would. You may experience decreased range of motion at the knee joint in general as a result of a ruptured quadriceps tendon.
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Symptoms of tendon ruptures
The main function of the knee joint is to flex and extend the leg. When the leg is straightened out in front of you, it is in a position of extension. When your knee is bent, it is in the flexed position. All healthy joints have a range of motion that is considered normal. The function of a tendon along with the muscle is to allow proper motion and force. But when a tendon ruptures, this can lead to almost no range of motion at all due to the fact that what is connecting the muscle to a bone has been compromised. This in turn does not allow the muscle to take the joint through its full range of motion. In addition to significant knee pain both above or below the kneecap, a knee injury involving a tendon rupture may also may present with other symptoms to be aware of. These are:
- A cramping or tightening feeling in the area of the bone that the tendon attaches or a similar sensation may be felt up in the belly of the muscle causing a burning pain in the quadriceps muscle depending on how severe the tendon rupture is
- Bruising around the knee joint that is sensitive to touch
- Burning pain in the quadriceps muscle or the knee joint due to inflammation causing swelling, redness, and warmth when touched
- Inability to extend the knee within normal range of motion
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What causes tendon ruptures?
Usually, causes of a tendon rupture diagnosis will involve a major trauma to the knee. Athletes in high-energy, contact sports are at the greatest risk for tendon ruptures due to the frequent and forceful use of the muscles around the knee joint. Tendon ruptures in the knee are caused by any force on the knee that the tendons are not strong enough to withstand such as:
- Landing on one or both knees after continuous falls
- Large pressure put on the knee without proper support
- Tendonitis or inflammation from other conditions that can lead to weak knees
Not only are athletes at risk of tendon rupture symptoms, but also patients who suffer from previous chronic knee pain conditions. Tendon rupture knee pain may happen as a result of another chronic knee injury.
How do I prevent tendon ruptures?
A major part of tendon rupture prevention is understanding your body. If your knees or muscles around the knee joint are in pain, stop and act on this knee pain. Cramps, bruises and swelling around the knee do not need to be a daily struggle. There are warning signs of a tendon rupture diagnosis that you can pay attention to and also preventive measures that can be done such as:
- Stretch the knee joint before any exercise
- Properly warm-up before participating in any strenuous activity
- Strengthen the muscles that surround the knee as strength training will not only increase the strength of the muscles, but the tendons as well
- Give your knees time to rest after high-energy activities