Here is a list of the most Frequently Asked Questions of quadriceps tendon tears that have been asked of me or in my Facebook Group. Some are actual clinical terms but a few are made up by the ‘quadder’ community and well myself too 🙂 If I missed any please let me know by sending me a quick note.
What is a Quadriceps Tendon Tear Rupture?
Quadriceps tendon tears can be either partial or complete.
- Partial tears – Many tears do not completely disrupt the soft tissue. This is similar to a rope stretched so far that some of the fibers are torn, but the rope is still in one piece.
- Complete tears – A complete tear will split the soft tissue into two pieces.
When the quadriceps tendon completely tears, the muscle is no longer anchored to the kneecap. Without this attachment, the knee cannot straighten when the quadriceps muscles contract.
How does someone rupture/tear their quadriceps tendon(s)?
A quadriceps tendon rupture usually happens during a very forceful event when a force is placed on the muscle or tendon that is greater than it can withstand. Both of my injuries were the result of very forceful eccentric movements (squatting down phase) were the quadriceps tendon(s) could not handle this violent force and it ruptured under stress.
How long is the surgery?
Since I am not a medical professional I cannot give specific advice. What I can tell you is only what my personal experience was having gone through this surgery twice. Once for a full tendon repair (right leg) and the second time for two procedures – a full tendon (left leg) and a partial tendon repair (right leg again). The first surgery I believe took about an hour while the second surgery was just over two hours to complete. Having read other people’s experiences there have been some surgeries that have lasted up to 4 hours. I’ve read many times that the longer a person waits to get this surgery, the longer and more complicated the surgery becomes since the quad tendon will retract making it harder for the OS to re-attach the tendon to the knee.
How long does the recovery process take?
The recovery process for a bilateral tear can vary from person to person and will take obviously longer than if you were to just tear one quadriceps tendon. Since I have done both I am a pretty good judge on the recovery process. My first tear took a full 9 months to heal to a point were I felt I was back to normal although is never the case. Generally you are in the full length adjustable ROM brace for around 3 months with PT approved by the doctor at around the 9 week mark. My bilateral injury took around the same time frame if not less and I strongly believe it was because I had better knowledge of what to do and how to go about doing it. I took my rehabilitation serious and I set small weekly and monthly goals to gauge my progress.
I suffered a bilateral tear? Will I have to be in a wheelchair until my legs are fully healed?
Although I have seen pictures of people who suffered QTR (Bill Phillips for one) that were in a wheelchair for a few days, the only time I spent time in a wheelchair was right after the surgery. And that was to just wheel me to the car. After that I never had to be in a wheelchair again. Again everyone is different and everyone’s injury will be slightly different.
I’ve heard that there is a lot of pain associated Post-op?
Well yes and no. My first surgery where I declined the nerve block came with a heavy price after I awoke from surgery. The most agonizing gut wrenching pain I have ever suffered is what I went through. Luckily when I got some muscle relaxers the pain stabilized. I hate to be honest but that’s what I experienced. I cannot be sure why I experienced so much post-op pain. Was it because I had to wait an extra week to get the surgery performed or was it because the procedure was done differently than the surgery that was done for my 2013 injury. Whichever was the case, if you get the nerve block I can attest that there was hardly any pain associated post-op.
How long do sutures stay in my leg(s) and last?
I believe there is some confusion with this as some people assume the stitches that are used to close the injury site are the sutures that are used in a QTR surgery. As my orthopedic surgeon explained it to me, the actual sutures used to reconnect the torn quad tendon(s) to the knee, those stay in for good. They don’t dissolve like other sutures so they will not be taken out. They are made from a very tough and resilient material almost cable like in durability.
I do believe the sutures that were in my right leg from my 2007 surgery probably aided in preventing my right quad tendon to fully rupture again in 2013 and only resulted in a partial tear. The actual stitches or staples that are used to close up the QTR(s) incision site are usually removed 2-3 weeks after surgery by a nurse or perhaps even your doctor.
How long do I have to wait to start driving again after surgery?
Getting the green light to drive again will depend on you and your doctors approval. Generally you won’t be driving for a few weeks and sometimes a few months depending on the nature of your tear(s) and recovery. For a detailed breakdown on this topic visit my page on driving with a quad rupture.
When you are recovering from a quad tendon tear you will be exposed to many terms along the way. Some will be familiar and some will not be. Here are some of the most frequent terms you will hear associated with quadriceps tendon rupture:
Bilateral Quadriceps Tendon Rupture
Full Weight Bearing
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
A person who has experienced a ruptured quadriceps tendon or a bilateral rupture of both legs
Quadriceps Tendon Rupture
Ruptured Quadriceps Tendon
Range of Motion