Q. Last week, I was doing squats at the gym and I felt a pop and my left knee gave out. I could not walk and I was taken to the hospital. I found out I tore my quad tendon off the bone and had to have surgery to fix it. I am in a large brace that keeps my knee straight that I have to wear for at least six weeks. Does this sound right? How long till I can work out, and will I go back to normal?
A. There are four large quadriceps muscles that form a large tendon that attaches to the top of the kneecap. There is an incredible amount of force that is applied to the tendon, three times your body weight while walking and five to seven times your body weight jumping or squatting. This injury is more common in men between 35 and 50. There is usually some underlying chronic tendonitis present and this sudden increase in force exceeds the strength of the tendon and it rips off the bone.
If surgery is not done, then the patient loses the ability to extend his leg against gravity, meaning he cannot walk. The surgery involves securing the tendon back to the kneecap. Usually a brace is necessary with the leg held straight for six to eight weeks to allow the tendon to heal properly. After the period of bracing, physical therapy is necessary for a couple of months to regain normal motion and strengthen the four quadriceps muscles. It is usually at least six months until you can return to full sports and a year till it starts to feel normal. The success rate with this injury is usually good with hard work put into rehab.
Dr. Harlan Selesnick is team physician of the Miami Heat and director of Miami Sports Medicine Fellowship, Doctors Hospital. Send your questions to HarlanS@baptisthealth.net.