Quadricep tendon of knee

by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR

Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.

Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

The patella (kneecap) lies between the femur (thigh) bone and the tibia (lower leg) bone.

The undersurface of the patella glides over the trochlea, a groove located at the bottom of the femur. The quadricep muscle group is located on the front of the thigh and consists of four muscles, the vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius, vastus medialis and the overlying rectus femoris.

The quadricep muscles share a common tendon, the quadricep tendon, which anchors these muscles at the top of the patella. The patellar tendon acts as a downward continuation of the quadricep tendon, originating from the bottom of the patella and inserting onto the tibial tuberosity at the front of the tibia.

The patella acts to support the quadricep muscles during leg extension (straightening of the leg). It also acts as a counterbalance for leg flexion. Proper function of this mechanism depends on normal patellar tracking during leg extension and flexion.

Muscle tightness in the outer knee area and muscle weakness in the inner knee area may compromise this tracking.

The quadriceps tendon can become inflamed at the insertion point at the top of the patella. Over use is the most common cause. Symptoms include:

• Pain during and after exercise. Tightening the quads with the leg extended causes pain.

• Pain can also be felt when pressure is applied to the top of the kneecap.

• Stiffness the day after training can also occur.

• Pain when standing up from a crouched position.

Treatment includes:

• Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate (RICE).

• Moist heat

• Stretching the quadriceps muscles

• Anti-inflammatory medication

• Sports massage

• A plaster cast may be needed in extreme cases

Gentle stretching of the quadriceps is a very important part of rehabilitation of this injury and must not be neglected. Rest is also important.

If the quadriceps tendon ruptures, the patella loses its anchor in the thigh. Without an intact quadriceps tendon, the patient is unable to straighten the knee. This requires a surgical procedure to correct.

Quadricep tendonitis occurring as a result of overuse or injury generally responds to ultrasound guided needle tenotomy with platelet-rich plasma (PRP). For more information about PRP and tendonitis, visit our sister site:

Tendonitis TendonitisandPRP.com provides reliable, accurate, and useful information on tendonitis treatment written by a board-certified rheumatologist. Learn more about how to get tendonitis relief using the most up-to-date methods.

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