Most people know that your body is made up of bones and muscles. But how familiar are you with the important middleman between the two? Tendons are cords of fibrous tissue that help attach muscles to bones. The patellar tendon is a tendon that attaches the bottom of the kneecap to the shinbone (tibia). This is a very important tendon and a patellar tendon tear can have a serious impact on a person’s mobility. There are two types of tears that can happen to the patellar tendon: partial tears and complete tears.
Partial tears to the patellar tendon are similar to a frayed rope that is stretched too much. Although the tears will cause some fibrous tissue to fray, the tendon will still be connected and in one piece. A partial tear to the patellar tendon makes it difficult to walk. Because the tendon is not in a healthy position to fully support the muscles of the leg, you will likely experience pain when walking or when doing other activities.
A complete tear to the patellar tendon indicates a split all the way through the fibrous tissue. The tendon will no longer be doing its job of connecting the bottom of the kneecap to the tibia. A complete tear to the patellar tendon will make it impossible for you to walk. This type of injury will prevent you from putting any pressure on the leg without severe pain; it is a disabling condition.
How does a Patellar Tear Happen?
Luckily, patellar tears are not so easy to get because the tendon is pretty strong. You may tear the patellar tendon by falling down on the knee or landing incorrectly after a jump.
Another way to get a patellar tear is thanks to a variety of health conditions that weaken bones and tendons such as rheumatoid arthritis, chronic renal failure, and diabetes mellitus. These conditions weaken tendons and increase the risk of tearing tendons in the body, including the patellar tendon.
Finally, another way a patellar tendon tear can happen is through the use of steroids. Steroids are linked to the weakening of muscles and tendons in the body. Anything that weakens muscles and tendons in the body substantially increases the risk of a tendon tear.
How are Patellar Tendon Tears Fixed?
Treatment of patellar tendon tears depends on the severity of the tear. Nonsurgical options include physical therapy and immobilizing the leg for several weeks so the body can heal itself. If you have significant partial tears or a complete tear, it will need to be fixed through surgery, followed by a long recovery period that will include physical therapy to strengthen and restore range of motion in the leg.
The experts at Tarpon Orthopedics are sports medicine, spine, and pain specialists. They know the ins and outs of the body as well what your body needs to thrive. If you experience any musculoskeletal issues, call (972) 596-1059 or request an appointment online today.