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Patella Tendon Repair


  • Patellar tendon repair is surgery to fix your damaged patellar tendon. Tendons connect muscles to bones, and together with muscles, work to move your arms, legs, fingers, and toes. The patellar tendon is located at the knee. It attaches to the front of the tibia (shin bone) and bottom of the patella (kneecap). Patellar tendon repair is done when the tendon is partially or completely torn. A complete tendon rupture may be acute or chronic based on the duration of time from injury. Injuries that occurred within six weeks are considered as acute, and after six weeks they are chronic. Distal tendon ruptures (tendon ruptures far from the knee) are injuries that usually need surgery. The repair will depend on the location, duration, and extent of the injury, and the age of the patient.
  • During surgery, caregivers repair the injured patellar tendon by reattaching the ends back together. The tendon may also be sewn to the bone using special tools, such as buttons and screws. This is usually done for chronic tendon injuries. Tendons taken from other parts of the body may also be used to replace damaged tendons. After surgery you may need a splint or cast to protect the tendon and help it heal. You may need to do special exercises to help build the strength back in your knees. With repair of the patellar tendon, your regular knee movements may be returned, and normal activities restored.


Take your medicine as directed.

Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

  • Pain medicine: You may need medicine to take away or decrease pain.
    • Learn how to take your medicine. Ask what medicine and how much you should take. Be sure you know how, when, and how often to take it.
    • Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease.
    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling someone when you get out of bed or if you need help.

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.

Ask your caregiver when you should return to have your knee wound checked, and the stitches removed.

Activity guidelines:

  • Do exercises as instructed by your caregiver. Daily knee exercises are important for the return of a functional and healthy knee. Avoid hard exercise such as jogging or bicycling right after surgery. Do not do more than the range of motion exercises advised by your caregiver.
  • Do not let your knee get wet unless your caregiver says it is OK. Ask your caregiver when you are allowed to bathe, shower, and swim.
  • Keep your heel raised with a pillow when sitting or lying down.
  • Place an ice pack on your knee for 15 to 30 minutes every hour for up to 24 hours. You can make an ice pack by putting crushed ice in a plastic bag and wrapping it with a towel. Do not sleep while using the ice pack because you can get frostbite. Do not use it for a longer time than instructed by your caregiver.

Physical therapy:

You may need to see a physical therapist to teach you special exercises. These exercises help improve movement and decrease pain. Physical therapy can also help improve strength and decrease your risk for loss of function.

Using crutches or a cane:

You may need to use crutches or a cane as support when walking. These devices help decrease stress and strain on your knee. Put only as much weight on your leg as advised by your caregiver. It is important to use crutches or a cane correctly. Ask your caregiver for more information about how to use crutches or a cane.

Wearing a knee brace, splint, or cast:

You may need to wear a knee brace, splint, or a cast after your surgery. This will help protect your knee and keep it from moving too much so it can heal faster. It may also be used to decrease pain. The brace will be locked in place for a time after surgery.

  • Knee brace:
    • Keep your brace locked while sleeping and doing exercises that make you bear weight. You may remove it once in a while to decrease leg cramps.
    • Keep the knee brace in a comfortable fit. Do not apply it too tightly.
    • Your caregiver may let you unlock your knee brace during exercises that increase range of motion. This may also be done when doing non-weight bearing exercises. Ask your caregiver for more information about wearing a knee brace.
  • Cast or splint:
    • Check the skin around the cast or splint every day. You may put lotion on any red or sore areas.
    • You may take a bath or shower when your caregiver says it is OK. It is important not to get the cast or splint wet. Before bathing, cover the cast or splint with two plastic trash bags. Tape the bags to your skin above the cast or splint to seal out the water. Keep your foot out of the water in case the bag breaks. If a plaster cast gets wet and soft, call your caregiver. You can dry the wet part of the cast using a hair dryer set on low or no heat.
    • Do not push down or lean on the cast or splint because it may break.
    • Do not scratch the skin under the cast by putting a sharp or pointed object inside the cast.

Wound care:

  • Do not remove the bandage over your wound or get it wet unless your caregiver says it is OK. Keep the bandage clean and dry.
  • Always wash your hands before and after taking care of a wound to prevent spreading infection.
  • Clean the wound as often as ordered by your caregiver. If you cannot reach the wound, ask for help.
  • If you have steri-strips (thin strips of tape) over the incision, do not pull them off. As they start to peel off, let them fall off by themselves.
  • Keep the stitches clean and dry. Do not trim or shorten the ends of your stitches. If they are rubbing on your clothing, you can put a soft gauze bandage between the stitches and your clothes.


  • You have a fever.
  • You have more pain in your knee or trouble moving around even after taking pain medicines.
  • Your skin is itchy, swollen, or has a rash.
  • Your stitches are swollen, red, have pus coming from them, or they have come apart.
  • You have chest pain or trouble breathing that is getting worse over time.
  • You have questions or concerns about your injury, surgery, or medicine.


  • You have calf (lower leg) pain.
  • You fall and injure the knee that had surgery.
  • Your bandage becomes soaked with blood.
  • Your leg or toes feel numb, tingly, cool to the touch, or look blue or pale.
  • You suddenly feel lightheaded and have trouble breathing.
  • You have new and sudden chest pain. You may have more pain when you take deep breaths or cough. You may cough up blood.
  • Your leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.