Quadriceps Tendon Tears

Quadriceps Tendon Tear Overview

The quadriceps tendon is important because it attaches the large quadriceps muscles to the knee cap (patella). The quadriceps muscles, quadriceps tendon, and patella tendon work together to stabilize the knee and straighten the leg. A quadriceps tendon tear is a serious injury. An appointment with a Carolina Orthopaedic and Neurosurgical Associates (CONA) specialist should be made as soon as possible.

Symptoms & Causes:

A snap or pop is usually heard when the quadriceps tendon tears. Symptoms include:

  • Bruising, pain, swelling, stiffness
  • Difficulty straightening the leg, walking or bearing weight
  • Knee instability (a sensation that the knee will “give out” when weight is put on it)

An indention where the tendon was torn may be seen on the knee cap.

Quadriceps tendon tear causes include:

A direct blow to the knee

  • A fall
  • A forceful landing after a jump
  • A laceration

Weak quadriceps muscles and a weak quadriceps tendon increase tear risk. Anabolic steroid use may cause muscle and tendon imbalances that also increase tear risk.

Common Treatments:

Nonsurgical treatments option treat most partial tears. After a thorough evaluation, a CONA hip specialist may recommend:

  • Immobilization
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications
  • Physical therapy
  • Rest, ice, elevation and compression (RICE)

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


A CONA specialist obtains a medical history review and analyzes all symptoms. A complete physical examination of the knee is performed. X-rays are taken to check patella alignment. An MRI may be ordered and analyzed to access tear severity. An accurate diagnosis is made and a customized treatment plan is prescribed.

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