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Tendon Rupture


A tendon rupture is a partial or complete tear of your tendon. Tendons are tough bands of tissue that attach your muscles to your bones. A tear may be caused by an injury or increased pressure on the tendon that occurs during sports or a fall. Your risk may be higher if you have a weak tendon. Weak tendons may be caused by tendonitis, use of steroids, older age, and chronic conditions such as arthritis.


Seek care immediately if:

  • You have severe pain in the injured area, even after you take medicine.
  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
  • You feel lightheaded, short of breath, and have chest pain.
  • You cough up blood.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your symptoms do not get better with treatment.
  • You feel another pop, snap, or crack in your tendon.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Acetaminophen decreases pain. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
  • 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.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.


  • Rest the injured tendon until pain and swelling have decreased. Ask your healthcare provider what activities you can do while your tendon heals.
  • Apply ice on your tendon for 15 to 20 minutes every hour for 48 hours or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
  • Compress the injury with an elastic bandage, air cast, medical boot, or splint to reduce swelling. Ask your healthcare provider which compression device to use, and how tight it should be.
  • Elevate the injured area above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. If possible, prop the injured area on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.

Wear support devices as directed.

You may need a brace, cast, or splint to limit movement and protect your tendon. If the tendon rupture is in your leg, you may need to use crutches. This will decrease pain as you move around.

Go to physical therapy as directed:

A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.