Complete Quad Tendon tear - A chronicle
Was 2 points from closing out a match when I sprinted from the baseline to the net. Planted my right foot to stop and set for a volley and my knee disintegrated. Looked like it went in 2 different directions simultaneously. After roughly 30 seconds of excruciating pain, my knee cap popped back into place and 80% of the pain dissipated as long as I kept my leg rigidly straight. But I could not bend my leg at all without terrible pain. Trip to the ER confirmed a complete tear of the quadriceps tendon. The tendon tore completely away from the kneecap, leaving the knee cap floating and me with no way to raise my lower leg and with quads that wanted to retract into the thigh.
Quad tendon tears are actually uncommon in tennis, but very common in skiing, snowboarding and other sports that put tremendous twisting forces on the knee. In my case, I had been dealing with some off and on severe patella tendon pain (runner's knee) for several years and had had a particularly bad case of it last summer. I had let it heal and was experiencing no signs of pain at the time of the injury, so the prognosis is I had built up a lot of scar tissue and calcification in the tendon which created a weak spot that gave way.
Had a wonderful surgeon put it back together 5 days after the injury. Its important to repair it within 5-7 days so that you don't get shrinkage of the tendon or quads that makes the repair much more difficult. The repair is pretty straight forward and for most folks there is a return to 90-100% functionality within 9-12 months, so my fingers are crossed. Most of the post op pain comes from the holes they drill in your knee cap to reattach the tendon.
Currently stuck on bed rest rest until the follow up 5 days post surgery. My movement is limited to protect the sutures and to prevent blood clots. If all goes well. sutures will come out at 2 weeks and then the PT crew will begin dialing in increased range of motion in 10 degree increments. Walking should commence within 2-3 months and return to the courts 6 months, with competitive play possible in 9-12 month.
I've found lots of good info on this board from other players chronicling their real life dealings with specific injuries and their rehab, so I'll chronicle the recovery process of this injury for future reference.