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Quadriceps tendon rupture occurs when a high level of force is put through the tendon — usually with a bent knee — that can cause the tissue to rupture. Symptoms of a quadriceps tendon rupture include pain, an inability to straighten the knee and in some case an inability to walk. There will also often be a large amount of swelling in the area just above the kneecap.
The quadriceps tendon is found above the patella and attaches the quadriceps muscle group to the knee. It is often put under a large amount of strain and over time can develop weaknesses.
Although a patient will often know that there is something wrong with his or her knee when a tendon rupture occurs, it is not always clear what the exact problem is. A quadriceps tendon rupture will occur suddenly, without warning and in many cases during an activity that the person has performed for a long time. Unfortunately, a rupture to the patella or quadriceps tendon is a serious problem and often not one that will be completely cured by rest or other conservative techniques.
Initially the person will feel pain when the injury occurs. Many people who suffer from a quadriceps tendon rupture will be unable to walk. The quadriceps is a powerful muscle group that is involved in a large number of everyday lower body activities. For this reason it’s usually immediately obvious that something is wrong when the injury occurs.
Aside from difficulty in walking a person with a rupture to the quadriceps tendon will also not be able to perform a straight leg raise. This is a simple exercise that is performed with the person laying flat with a straight leg. The leg is then lifted off the floor and held in the air. This is an exercise that is usually used to work the quadriceps muscle and hence if a rupture has occurred it will be difficult or impossible to perform it.
There will also be visible symptoms of a quadriceps tendon rupture. As with any serious injury there will often be a large amount of swelling in the area of the patella and quadriceps tendon. In many cases the patient will be able to feel a lump or problem in the area too. Although a tendon rupture is often straightforward to diagnose it can be mistaken for other problems such as a patella fracture. It can also be hard to diagnose in clinically overweight patients.
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