Patella Tendon Tears

Patella Tendon Tear Overview

The patella tendon connects the knee cap (patella) to the shin bone (tibia). The patella tendon is important because it works with the quadriceps tendon to straighten the leg. A patella tendon tear occurs when the patella tendon is partially or completely torn. Patients who experience patella tendon tear symptoms should make an appointment with a Carolina Orthopaedic and Neurosurgical Associates’ (CONA) knee specialist.

Symptoms & Causes

Patella tendon tear symptoms include:

  • An audible snap or pop
  • An indentation on the bottom of the patella
  • Cramps
  • Difficulty walking or bearing weight
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness

Common patella tendon tear causes are:

  • Falls
  • Running and jumping sports
  • Tendon weakness from tendonitis or steroid use

Common Treatments:

Nonsurgical treatment options treat many partial tears. After a thorough evaluation, a CONA knee specialist may recommend:

  • Immobilization in a cast or removable knee brace
  • Pain and anti-inflammatory medications
  • Physical therapy

Surgery may be recommended to treat complete tears. During a patella tendon repair, a CONA specialist repairs the torn tendon and attaches it to the bone.


  • A CONA specialist asks questions to find out exactly how the injury occurred and what symptoms presented.
  • A medical history including previous injuries is obtained.
  • A physical examination of the knee is performed.
  • X-rays and an MRI are viewed.

An accurate diagnosis is made and appropriate treatment plan is prescribed. Most treatment plans are customized and contain multiple treatment options.

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