Physiotherapy for Quadriceps Tendon Tear

Quadriceps tendon tear happens when the large tendon located just above the kneecap is partially or completely torn. A tendon is a strong cord of tissue connecting a muscle to a bone. The tendon connecting your front thigh muscles (quadriceps) is called the quadriceps tendon. This condition is also called quadriceps tendon rupture or torn quadriceps tendon.


Quadriceps tendon tear can happen in sports activities that require the athlete to jump, run or kick. Sometimes, improper weight lifting technique or lifting too much weight beyond the quadriceps tendon can take may result in tearing of the tendon. Certain conditions and medications may result in weakness of the quadriceps tendon, which may put the person at risk for getting quadriceps tendon rupture.


Symptoms of a ruptured quadriceps tendon can vary depending on the severity of the injury. You may experience
  • Pain at the site of tear
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness just above your kneecap
  • Bruising, a few hours following your injury
  • Sagging or drooping of your kneecap
  • Difficulty straightening your knee
  • Difficulty walking
  • Muscle weakness

Some people who experience tearing of their quadriceps tendon report that they felt a tearing or popping sensation at the time of their injury.

If you experience severe pain, your symptoms worsen, or are unsure of the severity of your injury, don’t hesitate to consult your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.


The type of treatment that you receive will depend on the severity of your injury. Your doctor may recommend that you be immobilized with a knee brace to allow healing. In addition, your doctor may require you to use crutches to avoid putting added stress to your injured limb.

Your doctor may recommend that you undergo physiotherapy after your symptoms have subsided. Your physiotherapist will help you increase your knee joint range of motion (ROM), improve your muscle strength and your overall fitness.

Your doctor may recommend surgery to repair your damaged quadriceps tendon, especially if the tear is so severe.

Physiotherapy Treatment Options for Quadriceps Tendon Tear

Physiotherapy treatments that you receive depend on the specific problems that you have and your particular goals. Your physiotherapist may decide to provide you a combination of the following treatments
  • Cold or Heat therapy
  • TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation)
  • Ultrasound
  • Soft tissue mobilization (massage)
  • Joint mobilization
  • Stretching
  • Physiotherapy exercises
    • Range of motion exercises
      • Passive range of motion (PROM) exercises
      • Active- assistive range of motion (AAROM) exercises
      • Active range of motion (AROM) exercises
    • Gradual quadriceps strengthening exercises
      • Isometric exercises (quadriceps setting)
      • Straight leg raising (SLR)
      • Weight training
  • Recommend crutches or other walking aids
  • Gait or walking training
  • Patient education
    • About quadriceps tendon tear
    • Precautions to observe
    • Injury prevention
  • Work or sport-specific rehabilitation program

Your physiotherapist will also provide you with a home management and exercise program that you can do at home. The type of treatments and physiotherapy program that you receive will depend on your stage of recovery.

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