Patella tendon rupture

This refers to tearing of the tendon that joins the knee cap (and therefore the quads muscles) to the shin bone. It is a significant and serious injury resulting from forcible quads contraction against resistance. It is more common in middle aged athletes or people retuning to sports after several years off.

You will feel intense pain at the front of the knee below the knee cap and will probably feel or hear a tearing or snapping. The knee will be very weak and you may fall to the ground and be unable to stand up or bring the knee out straight. You will not be able to walk with a complete rupture, or raise the leg straight off the ground.

This is a serious injury and you will usually need to go to hospital where the diagnosis can be made in accident and emergency. Surgery is required within the first 14 days, so you may not be kept in hospital but put in a cast or brace with the knee out straight. You should arrange to see Mr Willis-Owen promptly for surgery to repair your tendon as soon as possible.

After the initial emergency treatment Mr Willis-Owen will assess the knee for further damage. An ultrasound scan can be used to confirm the diagnosis if there is any doubt. The treatment is surgery to repair the ruptured tendon, followed by a period of time in plaster then braces and careful rehabilitation to get the knee moving and the muscle strength back. You will need to be seen urgently and Mr Willis-Owen will always do his best to carry out your surgery within a few days of your injury. It is well worth seeing someone with considerable experience of this injury as getting the length of the repaired tendon right is critical to making a good recovery. Mr Willis-Owen has developed his own technique for patella tendon repair based on considerable experience.