The two primary tendons located in the front of the knee are the patellar tendon and the quadriceps tendon. A quadriceps tendon rupture or tear is more common than a patellar tendon rupture and can be either partial or complete.

The quadriceps muscles come together just above the kneecap to form the quadriceps tendon. The kneecap is attached to the shinbone by the patellar tendon. These muscles and tendons work together to straighten the knee and play an important role in walking, running, jumping and climbing stairs.

Ruptures of the quadriceps or patellar tendon most often occur from direct impact to the tendon or when the knee is forced to flex, such as when falling down the stairs. Patella tendon ruptures are less common than quadriceps tendon ruptures, and often occur in individuals under 40 years of age as the result of a sports injury.

Patients with patella or quadriceps tendon ruptures will usually experience a painful, swollen knee and have difficulty walking or straightening their leg. There may also be an indentation above or below the kneecap where the tendon ruptured.

To prevent scarring and decreased blood flow, early diagnosis and treatment by a knee specialist at Lancaster Orthopedic Group is important. These tendons rarely heal on their own, and surgery is usually needed to suture or anchor the ruptured tendon to the top or bottom of the kneecap.