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Ruptured Tendon (cont.)

Ruptured Tendon Surgery

  • Quadriceps
    • Unless the doctor is sure that the injury is a partial tear, surgery will be done to repair the tendon.
    • After your operation, you will be placed in a cast or immobilizer as if you had a partial tear.
    • With physical therapy, your injured leg should be up to speed with your noninjured leg in six months.
  • Achilles tendon
    • Surgery to repair your Achilles tendon is recommended for active people who desire near normal strength and power in plantarflexion. An additional advantage with surgical correction is a lower re-rupture rate of the tendon.
    • After your operation, your foot will be immobilized with your toes pointing downward for three to four weeks and then progressively brought into neutral position over two to three weeks before weight-bearing is started. Surgery carries with it a higher risk of infection than closed treatment.
  • Rotator cuff
    • Many surgeons will not attempt surgical repair until nonoperative treatment has failed, even in cases of larger tears.
    • Surgical treatment is usually reserved for a severe tear in a young person or in an older person (60-70 years of age) who is suddenly unable to externally rotate their arm.
    • Acromioplasty, removal of the coracoacromial ligament and repair of the rotator cuff tendon, usually results in near full rotator cuff strength.
  • Biceps
    • In young people unwilling to accept the loss of function and mild deformity involved with this injury, surgery is performed to repair the tendon.
    • Surgery is also considered for the middle-aged person who requires full supination strength in their line of work.
    • You should leave your arm in a sling for a few days after surgery and then begin to use the affected arm as tolerated. After surgery, your elbow flexion and arm supination is near normal in about 12 weeks.

Ruptured Tendon Prevention

To prevent future tears, avoid the cause of the ruptured tendon or treat the problem that led to the tear.

Ruptured Tendon Prognosis

The prognosis for both surgery and nonsurgical treatment varies with the location and severity of the rupture.

Surgical repair, in concert with additional physical therapy, can result in return to normal strength. Nonoperative repair has also shown promise in tendon ruptures.

Nonoperative treatment is most effective in partial tendon ruptures. The drawback of nonoperative treatment is that strength is not as reliably returned to baseline with this type of treatment. The benefits include a decreased risk of infection and generally shorter recovery time.

Medically reviewed by Aimee V. HachigianGould, MD; American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery


Koopman, William, et al., eds. Clinical Primer of Rheumatology. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2003.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/17/2016

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