Partially torn Quad Tendon (how possible is recovery without surgery)?


Original Post
Rick Erker · · Crawford, CO · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 0

I recently (3 weeks ago)tore my quad tendon just over 50% at the patella, while out trying to secure an elk for the freezer. My Orthopaedic doctor believes it will heal up fine and there is always surgery to fall back on if it doesn't come around.
I'm currently partial bearing with a straight knee brace. Crutches are also recommended whenever possible.

Just wondering if anyone has had a similar injury and how it all worked out.
Thanks, Rick

Eric Engberg · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 0

5 years ago I had a torn quad quad tendon. I'm not sure what %. Initial diagnosis by a know nothing GP said "nothing serious". That's what I wanted to hear so I tried to ignore it. For example I climbed the Grand Teton ~1 month post injury. That was pretty painful but I survived and decided I needed to find a good sports minded orthopedic. Orthopedic said 100% but the MRI was not so conclusive. I don't believe it was 100% as I was still somewhat functional. I could still climb mostly ok - it was just walking that was tough. The ortho only recommended surgery - didn't mention any sort of PT as an option (probably typical). So after one last trip to the Red I had the surgery.

The good news is that it worked out really well. Crutches and over the knee brace for ~1 month kept me from doing anything but after that I started some good PT and was walking ok within 6 weeks, climbing after 8 weeks and hiking pretty normally after 3 months. No problems since.

So in my case I think the surgery was the right choice. Even if PT could have helped it probably would have taken longer to recover. If you trust your doctor - really think he has your best interests at heart - I would go along with the recommendation. How was the 50% diagnosis determined? Have you had an image?

Rick Erker · · Crawford, CO · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 0

Thanks, It was an ultrasound image which a lot less expensive than an MRI. $250 or so compared to $1500 plus.

Lee Green · · Edmonton, Alberta · Joined Nov 2011 · Points: 50

MSK ultrasound is pretty reliable, so I'd believe the percent. For a partial tear, my bias would be toward conservative management. You can have surgery later if that doesn't work out. Surgery has a low complication rate, but if you're one of them, it can be really bad, so it wouldn't be my first choice.

john strand · · southern colo · Joined May 2008 · Points: 1,575

I had a partial as well, didn't have surgery since I was getting a knee replaced. The big worry was atrophy/calcification. You wanna keep it moving but you can't do too much

Rick Erker · · Crawford, CO · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 0

Update on Quad tear... Week 12
I did end up having a MRI. Nothing showed up that the ultrasound didn't show.
Getting out of the rigid leg brace (at the end of 5 weeks) and into a flexible brace not only kept me from staining the good knee, it was a great moral booster.
3 months in and the knees really starting to do quite well. PT, PT, and more PT.
Started doing some easy squats and light lunges this past week.
Getting in and out of vehicles is finally getting normalized.
Going up and down ladders (I'm a carpenter) is a leading with the good leg affair.

So now the trick is to not get complacent and re-injure the tendon.

Jay Ramirez · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 0

Hi guys. Good thing I found this forum.. I just had a quadriceps tendon rapture, my ortho said around 50% torn. He is giving me 2 choices, if surgery it would take 3 months with PT for me to recover.. if it's non-surgical treatment, I would be wearing 6 weeks immobilzer plus PT (indefinite timeframe) .. Doctor said both ways will take 12 months for full recovery.. he said in 12 months I cant do excessive activities like sports.. right now I am confused. He has given me 1 week to decide.. now my question is, especially to erik, hows your knee condition? How long it took to recover? Hows your range of motion? And is it tru that if ita non aurgical treatment, the tendency of having re-rapture is high? Trealy appreciate some good comments and thanks in advance.

Rick Erker · · Crawford, CO · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 0

Jay, I'm now at 90% recovered from my torn quad tendon. My mobility is 100%. Still doing PT on my own. Going in about once a month for addition exercises. I'm still fairly cautious on steep uneven terrain. No climbing yet. I'm going to give myself another few months of strengthening. Have been out x country skiing and snowshoeing though.
I'm going to tell you I had doubts in the beginning as to if it was ever going to heal... but it has with time and patience.
Not sure on the likelihood of re injury after its healed up.
My doctor recommended to wear my flexible knee brace in situations which might re injure the knee for the first year.
Good healing,
Rick

Eric Engberg · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 0
Jay Ramirez wrote:Hi guys. Good thing I found this forum.. I just had a quadriceps tendon rapture, my ortho said around 50% torn. He is giving me 2 choices, if surgery it would take 3 months with PT for me to recover.. if it's non-surgical treatment, I would be wearing 6 weeks immobilzer plus PT (indefinite timeframe) .. Doctor said both ways will take 12 months for full recovery.. he said in 12 months I cant do excessive activities like sports.. right now I am confused. He has given me 1 week to decide.. now my question is, especially to erik, hows your knee condition? How long it took to recover? Hows your range of motion? And is it tru that if ita non aurgical treatment, the tendency of having re-rapture is high? Trealy appreciate some good comments and thanks in advance.
In my case with the surgery the recovery etc. went really quickly. I had surgery at the end of October and by early February I was doing dome pretty good moderate hiking. Just before the surgery I also ruptured a rotator cuff tendon (sub-scap) and ended up having surgery for that in mid February. The recovery from that was longer and more painful but I started easy climbing again in June and pretty much back to normal with the knee at that point (8 months post surgery). The shoulder took more like 18 months. In any case today - ~6 years post quad tendon surgery - every thing is fine. I think I had the best possible outcome. I was fortunate I realize evryone won't be that lucky.
JulianG · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 5

I recommend to change your diet. Maybe, chicken from your local supermarket.

Obviously you can't handle an elk, very bad for your health

Jay Ramirez · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 0

Hi rick erker thanks for a really quick reply.. I thought the thread doesnt exist anymore.. base from your experience you gave me hope.. im wearing immobilizer for the past 2 weeks now.. I seek man advise because I got confused with my 2 ortho doctor.. the other is offering me a surgery and the other who happens to be a sport doctor is offering me a non surgical treatment, they are colleagues by the way.

Anyhow.. whats the next step after the immobilzer? Knee brace and PT? Can you extend your feet after immobilzer or it needs PT to move it graduallly? Also whats your diet? Any vitamins? Really appreciate your answer.. thanks in advance

P.S. im a Cinematographer and I am checking my timetable if I can still make it for the next movie project.. shooting starts on last week of april 2017.. if not i'll just ask them to replace me. :(

Jay Ramirez · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 0

Hi rick erker.. also i wanted to ask.. hows the gap in your 50% torn? Did it regrow after 6 weeks? Or 3 months? Also did the quad muscle regrow? Thanks in advance rick.. really aprreciate your answer.. a

Rick Erker · · Crawford, CO · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 0

The tear was pretty much centered on the top. It was just over 50%. And I believe it was healed at 4 months. My doctor was Gloria Beim of Alpine Orthopedics of Gunnison if you decide for a second opinion. She is top of her field.
Rick

Jay Ramirez · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 0

Hi rick.. you mean your tear is only on a top layer? Or you had a gap in the center of the tendon? More than 50%? Because i am comparing it with my case.. mind is 50% connected on the outer side part of my knee and torn on the inner side knee..

Guy Keesee · · Moorpark, CA · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 105

Hi... just saw this thread... I had a 100% ruptured Quadriceps. I did not need a MRI... you could see the whole thing bunched up 1/2 way up my leg and the Patella was down about 10 inches...I could feel my bone right where the big hole was... I did it hiking, with a big pack, returning from a day at ECHO cliffs.

Long story short... Surgery- followed by 5 months in a full leg cast- left my leg looking more like a my arm. The Doc was happy because I could still make my newly re-attached quads move a bit.

About 6 months of PT... I could walk around.

After a year... I still could not run, but I could raise my big toe off of the floor and do a knee bend.

I could climb some, left leg hi-steps were a no-go.

it took almost two years before I could run again....

I still sometimes drag that foot on the ground and my knee wants to buckle out from under me, without warning. (sort of ended the Alpine Climbing for me)

I injured my back, lowdown, and I now have some nerve damage that is keeping my leg from growing back to its full size.

Thank god for adjustable leg loops.

You do not want to have this injury, trust me.

Jay Ramirez · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 0

Hi guys just an update.. I found an Ortho/sports doctor.. he advised me to take non surgical treatment.. i'll be starting my first therapy next week 3x a week for 4 weeks straight and i'll be having doctors visit.. then I think more therapy will happen.. just keep praying guys.. God is good. He answered my prayers.. I found the best doctor for me... thanks for all the comment.. i'll keep you posted.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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