What is a quadriceps tendon injury?
The quadriceps femoris, more commonly referred to as the “quads”, is a muscle group found along the anterior (front) thigh. These four muscles originate at the hip and join together to form the quadriceps tendon that attaches to the top of the patella (kneecap). The quadriceps tendon plays an important role in the mechanics of bending and straightening the leg with the help of the patellar tendon and the quadriceps muscle. The quadriceps tendon can become partially or completely torn from its attachment site when a significant amount of stress on the knee results in involuntary flexion of the leg. This rare and often serious injury occurs most often in middle-aged and older individuals that participate in running or jumping sports. Weakening of the quadriceps tendon from steroid use, certain antibiotics, or a number of underlying health conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, or chronic inflammation of the quadriceps tendon, can enhance the risk of experiencing a quadriceps tendon injury. Dr. Ronak Mukesh Patel, orthopedic knee specialist serving patients in Sugar Land, Pearland, and the Houston, Texas area, has the knowledge and understanding, as well as substantial experience in treating patients who have experienced a quadriceps tendon injury.
What are the symptoms of a quadriceps tendon injury?
A common complaint of a quadriceps tendon injury is pain and swelling above the knee immediately following an injury. Some individuals have reported a “popping” or “tearing” sensation at the time of injury. Other common symptoms of a quadriceps tendon injury can include:
- Bruising above the knee
- Unable to straighten the leg
- Knee tenderness and cramping
- Visible indentation at the site of injury
- Severe tears may cause the patella to sag or droop
- A sensation of the knee “giving way” makes walking difficult
How is a quadriceps tendon injury diagnosed?
Dr. Patel will obtain a comprehensive medical history followed by a thorough physical examination. If a quadriceps tendon injury is suspected, certain tests will be performed to evaluate the integrity of the quadriceps tendon. Diagnostic imaging tools can also be valuable in confirming a quadriceps tendon injury. X-rays rule out bone-related injuries such as a fracture. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and an ultrasound are the best studies to determine the extent of a quadriceps tendon injury as well as identify any damage to the other structures within the knee joint.
What is the treatment for a quadriceps tendon injury?
Patients that experience a minor quadriceps tendon injury generally respond well to non-surgical therapies alone. Immobilization of the knee joint is important for protection and stabilization during the healing process. Weight-bearing is limited with the help of crutches or a walker. The pain and inflammation associated with this injury can be managed with a combination of rest, ice, elevation, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs). When appropriate, Dr. Patel will recommend participation in a physical rehabilitation program focused on improving strength and restoring range of motion of the leg.
Patients who sustain severe or complete quadriceps tendon tears, or do not respond well to non-surgical therapy, may require surgical intervention to repair the quadriceps tendon. A minimally invasive procedure involving a small camera (arthroscope) and specialized surgical instruments is the preferred surgical technique for repairing a quadriceps tendon injury. The damaged portions of the quadriceps tendon are excised and the remaining healthy tendon is reattached to the patella using sutures or special surgical anchors. In the event of tendon retraction, a tendon graft may be utilized to lengthen or reconstruct the quadriceps tendon.
Quadriceps Tendon Injury Specialist
Are you an athlete that participates in running or jumping activities? If so, you may be at risk of injuring your quadriceps tendon. The quadriceps or “quads” injuries occur most commonly in middle-aged and older adults, especially if there has been prior steroid use. Quadriceps tendon injury specialist, Doctor Ronak Mukesh Patel, provides diagnosis as well as surgical and nonsurgical treatment options for patients in Houston, Sugar Land, and Pearland, TX who have suffered a quadriceps tendon injury. Contact Dr. Patel’s team today!