A patellar tendon tear is a painful injury that can affect your ability to run, walk, and participate in normal and recreational activities. A physical therapy program may be helpful for this injury. A physical therapist will assist you in the rehabilitation process by performing several key components of a program. These will allow you to increase range of motion, strength, decrease pain and regain functional mobility.
Anatomy and Function of the Patellar Tendon
It’s a ligament that connects to the shin bone from above our kneecap. A ligament, in medical terms, is connective tissue that binds our bones together.
The patellar tendon, though it links two bones, is still called a tendon. It is an extension from the quadriceps muscles. This large muscle is located in front of your thigh. It crosses your Patella as the quad tendon then the patellar tendon. It then attaches at the front of your shin to the quads, responsible for strengthening and extending the knee joint.
You should immediately seek medical attention if you feel your patellar tendon has ruptured. Your doctor or physical therapist will examine you and diagnose the injury.
- You feel excessive pain in your knees
- You can swell in front of your name
- Walking and other activities involving the lower extremities can be difficult
- It is difficult to fully extend your knee joint.
A physical therapist or healthcare provider will diagnose a patellar tendon injury. They will then perform an X-ray, mirror resonance imaging or MRI to confirm the damage to your knee. Depending on the severity of the injury, a decision will be made about whether to perform surgery or to immobilize the knee to allow it to heal naturally.
Patellar tendon physical therapy
Your physical therapist will first treat the patellar tendon by allowing you to rest, apply ice packs, compress the injury with pneumatic compression, as well as elevating it. You may be fitted with a cast or splint to cover your knee.
After a few weeks of rehabilitation, your physical therapist will begin to gently move your knee. These motions can either be active or passive. Next, several exercises will be performed by your physical therapy to increase your flexibility and range of motion.