Patellar Tendon Tear Treatment – Exercises, FAQs & Case

Table of Content:

Patellar Tendon Tear/Rupture FAQs:

How long does it take to recover from a  patellar tendon tear?

It will take 3 months to walk normally, 6 months to return to running and 9 months before you can return to sport/practice from a torn patellar tendon.

Is a patella tendon tear painful?

Yes, patella tendon tear can be very painful as the tear is trauma to the knee. Swelling and bruising come in very quickly in the knee area which can cause the pain to get worse.

What does a torn patellar tendon look like?

You will notice the knee cap has shifted up towards the thigh from its normal resting position at the knee joint. If the tear is partial then you may see a soft spot where the tendon should be below the knee cap (patella), there is usually a lot of swelling and bruising too.

Is a rupture worse than a tear?

Full rupture is worse than a tear. Rupture means a complete tear of the tendon and will require more work in the surgery to repair and a longer rehabilitation. Tear has some hope of scarring over and will require less repair in surgery and you can get back to normal faster than a rupture.

Can you walk with a torn patella tendon?

Yes you can walk with a torn patellar tendon because parts of the tendon are still connected, however, you would not be able to walk with a ruptured patellar tendon as there’s nothing holding your knee from bending when you put weight on the leg.

Does a torn patellar tendon grow back?

No it does not, but the the tear can scar over giving you enough stability in the knee to return to normal everyday activities.

Patellar Tendon Repair Rehab: A Comprehensive Guide to Physical Therapy

At Motion Physical Therapy, we understand the importance of proper physical therapy rehabilitation after undergoing patellar tendon repair surgery. Our team of expert therapists has compiled this comprehensive guide to help you navigate the rehabilitation process and optimize your recovery.

Understanding Patellar Tendon Repair Surgery

Patellar tendon repair surgery is a common procedure used to repair a torn or ruptured patellar tendon, which connects the kneecap to the shinbone. The surgery involves reattaching the tendon to the kneecap using sutures or other fixation devices. After the surgery, the patient is typically immobilized in a brace or cast for several weeks before beginning physical therapy.

Physical Therapy Rehabilitation After Patellar Tendon Repair

Physical therapy rehabilitation after patellar tendon repair surgery typically involves several phases, each with its own goals and objectives. Here is a breakdown of each phase:

Phase 1: Protection and Immobilization

During the first phase of rehabilitation, which typically lasts for 4-6 weeks, the patient is immobilized in a brace or cast to protect the surgical site and allow for proper healing. During this phase, the physical therapist may use modalities such as ice, compression, and electrical stimulation to reduce pain and swelling.

Phase 2: Range of Motion

The second phase of rehabilitation focuses on restoring range of motion to the knee joint. The physical therapist will work with the patient to perform gentle exercises that gradually increase the range of motion in the knee. Modalities such as heat and ultrasound may also be used to facilitate healing.

Phase 3: Strengthening

Once the patient has achieved full range of motion, the focus shifts to strengthening the muscles around the knee. This phase may involve exercises such as squats, lunges, and leg presses to improve muscle strength and endurance. The physical therapist may also incorporate balance and proprioception exercises to improve stability and prevent future injuries.

Phase 4: Functional Training

The final phase of rehabilitation involves functional training, which is designed to prepare the patient for a return to normal activities. This phase may involve exercises such as jumping, cutting, and pivoting to simulate the movements required for sports or other high-intensity activities.


Proper physical therapy rehabilitation is essential for a successful recovery after patellar tendon repair surgery. At [Your Company Name], we are dedicated to helping our patients achieve optimal outcomes by providing comprehensive and personalized rehabilitation programs. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you get back to the activities you love.

Patellar Tendon Tear Injury Case Study:

In this case the patient was playing soccer when he suffered a patellar tendon rupture on a high speed cut. He started his physical therapy around 4 months after surgery due to insurance reasons. Ideally he should have started around 2-4 weeks post-op.


Physical Therapy and Recovery:

Rehabilitation for these repairs is straight forward. Patient will be in a brace that is locked in full extension for 6 weeks with crutches. During the 6 weeks patient is allowed to slowly progress the range of motion of the knee bend to 90 degrees. They are also allowed to work on non-weight bearing strengthening exercises for the leg with the brace on.

The brace is unlocked at the 6-week mark to allow active motion and patient can start standing exercises as tolerated. Gait training is usually started at this time as well.

To goal is to regain full range in the knee so it matches the non-injured knee. Strength wise we want at least 85% strength in the injured knee compared to the non-injured knee before we allow patients to return to their sport. Agility exercises can be started around the 3 month mark and low grade explosive/power exercises can be started around this time as well.

Stage 1 Physical Therapy – Range of Motion:

Here are some early stage exercises for patellar tendon rupture rehab.

At this point we are mainly concerned with getting the knee bending and fighting through the scar tissue that has set in.

We also want to start activating the quad muscles and gluteal muscles to stabilize the knee so we can eventually get out of the brace.

Patellar Tendon Rupture Exercises:

1️⃣ Edge of Table Knee bends – He’s ranging his knee bend himself using his other leg to push the knee into bending

2️⃣ Total Gym Squats – Got him on the total gym to bend the knee into a good stretch and then use his muscles to push himself up again.

Stage II Physical Therapy – Range of Motion & Strengthening:

Patient has progressed to more aggressive exercises for strengthening and ROM.

1️⃣ PT assisted ROM – The PT is aggressively pushing the knee into flexion. Cross friction massage is also applied to break scar tissue.

2️⃣ TRX Squats – Using a TRX strap to let him lean back to limit the stress on the knee while trying to get into a deep squat for a stretch

3️⃣ Seated on Ball ROM – Rolling back and forth on the ball trying to get the knee to bend more and scar tissue to stretch

Stage III Physical Therapy – Strengthening & Functional Training:

Now working on agility exercises and step down exercises to gain confidence in the knee.

Patellar Tendon Rupture Exercises

1️⃣ Agility Ladder – He’s doing agility ladder at slow speeds to build confidence in quick movements.

2️⃣ Ladder Mini Hops – He still cheats by leaning over to the right leg when landing, his cues are to land with his weight balanced non both legs.

3️⃣ Assisted Step Downs – We kept the step small so he can start gaining confidence as his quad has to eccentrically control the knee bending as he steps down.


Looking to rehab your Patellar Tendon Tear injury on your own? You’re in luck, we offer a step-by-step exercise progression program with exercise videos to help you recover fully without the need for formal physio/physical therapy.

For our complete Physical Therapy Treatment program at home check out our HOME PHYSICAL THERAPY REHAB PROGRAM FOR PATELLAR TENDON TEAR REPAIR.

It is a 12 week program to guide you through every exercise, stretch and milestone on your recovery from this injury.

It was developed by our expert PTs, who treat these types of injuries daily in our clinics.

The program is broken down into weekly video modules that show and explain what exercises and stretches to do for that week. The videos go over proper technique, form and what to look out for with that exercise.

This program is meant for those who do not have access to a licensed physical therapist and wish to get the best outcome for their injury.

To purchase the complete home physical therapy rehab program for patellar tendon rupture repair please CLICK HERE for Home Patellar Tendon Rupture Rehab Program.


Article Name
Patellar Tendon Tear/Rupture Recovery - Case Study, Exercises, FAQs
Overview of patellar tendon tear/rupture recovery with real patient case study, physical therapy exercises and FAQs.
Publisher Name
Motion Physical Therapy & Rehab
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