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Quadricep and Patellar Tendon Ruptures Treatment Options

Treatment options for tendon tears depend on your age, activity level and the severity of the tear. Early treatment is the key to a successful outcome. The quadriceps and patellar tendons are involved in straightening the knee and even small tears can make it difficult to walk or perform the daily activities of life.

Nonsurgical treatment

In the acute phase of the injury, treatment for a partial tear or chronic tendinopathy may be conservative including rest, icing and compression, and anti-inflammatory medications. Immobilization with a knee brace is essential to keep your leg straight for about six weeks while the tear heals. Crutches are indicated to limit or prevent putting weight on the damaged knee. Physical therapy can be initiated according to Dr. Harrison’s protocol. This will involve slowly restoring range of motion and muscle strengthening.

Surgical repair

For complete ruptures, early open surgical repair and reconstruction is required to restore knee function. Repair surgery will involve reattachment of the tendon back to the bone using drill holes through which Dr. Harrison will pass sutures to repair the patellar tendon to the kneecap in the correct position while the tendon heals. Repair will be followed by aggressive early rehabilitation.

Repeated chronic ruptures are challenging to treat due to scar tissue and tendon shortening. They may require tendon reconstruction with a  tendon graft.

Tendon repair and reconstruction is often performed as an outpatient procedure with nerve blocks that numb the leg or the lower body.

Recovery after knee tendon surgery

Rehabilitation begins immediately after surgery. You will wake up with a fitted brace or knee immobilizer attached to your leg. The brace will run the length of the leg from the mid-thigh to the mid-calf and will be locked to keep the leg straight. It will be worn for up to six weeks and locked in full extension during weight bearing.  You will use crutches for weight bearing restrictions and assistance as prescribed by Dr. Harrison

Physical therapy is essential and will help reduce pain and swelling, and with time regain knee mobility, and strength. Recovery is a process. It can take six to nine months  to return to full function.  Return to sports will depend on recovery of leg strength.

Dr. Harrison will provide full postoperative instructions and with the rehabilitation team develop a tailored rehab program to help you get back to the life you love.

Dr. Harrison is a board-certified fellowship trained orthopedic and sports medicine surgeon who specializes in arthroscopic knee and shoulder surgery. He is the Head Team Physician for the United States Alpine Ski Team and the Head Team Physician for Weber State University for over 20 plus years.  Dr. Harrison completed his undergraduate degree at Baylor University and received his medical degree from the University of Arizona College of Medicine. He completed his orthopedic residency at the University of Utah followed by a fellowship in sports medicine at the Cincinnati Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center. He finished his formal training with an additional AO Trauma Fellowship in Bern, Switzerland.

At a Glance

Dr. Jeffrey Harrison

  • Board-Certified, Fellowship-Trained Orthopedic Surgeon
  • Head Team Physician US Women's Alpine Team and Weber State University
  • Performs over 800 surgeries per year
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