Patellar Tendon Rupture Recovery Time

By: Andrew Godek, Physical Therapist/Certified Athletic Trainer

To learn more about knee tendon injuries, please read this article:

Patellar Tendon Rupture Recovery

You are sitting in your doctor’s office after hurting your knee while playing basketball, and they tell you that you have torn your patellar tendon.. now what?  What is the patellar tendon rupture recovery like?  To learn more about the anatomy of the knee, go to this video.

Patellar Tendon Rupture RecoveryAnatomy and musculature of the leg.

The patellar tendon is a strong tendon that extends down from the thigh muscle (quadriceps) and attaches the knee cap (patella) to the shin bone (tibia). Its main function is to help straighten the knee. This tendon can be torn by a forceful contraction of the quadriceps while performing running or jumping activities. It also can be torn by falling directly on the knee. In both cases, the patellar tendon can be partially torn or completely ruptured (torn fully). 

As with any injury, the severity greatly impacts the timetable for recovery. A partial tear can be treated with immobilization and physical therapy. In more severe cases with a ruptured tendon, the best intervention course is a surgical repair performed by an orthopedic surgeon. Recovery time will also vary based on the individual surgeon's rehabilitation protocol. 

Surgery for a Patellar Tendon Rupture

What is the recovery time for a patellar tendon rupturePatellar Tendon Rupture Recovery

Surgery to repair the patellar tendon involves re-attaching the tendon that was torn by either suturing the two torn ends together or using a different structure to bridge the gap. Following surgery, it is essential to limit how far the knee is bent to heal. Gradually this will be increased to allow the new surgically repaired tendon to lengthen safely. Here are a few things to keep in mind with patellar tendon rupture recovery:

  • No weight-bearing or limited weight-bearing on your injured leg for up to 4-6 weeks.
  • Wearing a long brace or knee immobilizer that keeps your leg straight for 6 weeks.
  • Limited ability to bend your knee for up to 12 weeks.
  • No running for 12-14 weeks, depending on leg strength.
  • Return to sports at about 6 months, depending on leg strength.

Not everyone that has this injury is an athlete and may not be looking to get back to sports activities. For those people not returning to sports activities, here are some functional things to think about.

  • If you injure your right leg, you will not be able to drive for up to 6 weeks and possibly longer.
  • For those with more physically demanding jobs, you may be limited to returning to normal work tasks for 3-6 months.
  • You may have residual stiffness and weakness in the injured leg compared to the uninjured side.

What is Patellar Tendon Recovery Like?

Quick answer, recovery from a patellar tendon rupture is a lengthy process following this surgery because of the tendon's time to heal. Patience and hard work will pay off during your road to recovery. Your rehab team from JOI will be with you each step of the way to ensure you properly recover and regain your strength and mobility.

Physical Therapy for the Patellar Tendon

Physical therapy is vital Patellar Tendon RecoveryJOI Physical Therapists work help Patellar Tendon Recovery

Physical therapy is vital for patellar tendon rupture recovery. It is imperative to regain the knee's normal range of motion and decrease the pain and swelling. The swelling will cause the quad muscle to shut down and atrophy. The vastus medialis muscle will need special strengthening exercises to ensure that he can stabilize the patella in the center of the knee. Often, the vastus lateralis is too strong and well as the knee's lateral structures, which may actually cause subluxation or dislocation.  JOI Rehab has specialty-trained clinicians to provide physical therapy for your knee. 

If you need to see an Orthopaedic Knee Specialist, please call 904-JOI-2000, schedule online, or follow the link below.  

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