Symptoms and Signs of Ruptured Tendon

Doctor's Notes on Ruptured Tendon

A ruptured tendon is when the fibrous tissue that attaches muscle to bone tear or rupture. Signs and symptoms of tendon rupture include a snap or pop that you can hear followed almost immediately by severe pain. Other signs and symptoms include immediate or rapid bruising, weakness and inability to use or move the affected area (the arm, knee, foot, for example), swelling or deformity of the area and the person’s inability to bear or lift weight with the affected body part. Specific injuries can produce specific signs and symptoms; for example, the shoulder’s rotator cuff rupture will not allow a person to bring their arm out to the side while a quadriceps tendon rupture results in the inability to extend the knee completely.

Cause of a ruptured tendon in most people is direct trauma to the tendon that causes it to twist and tear or to pop apart when it exceeds its stress limit. Other causes that may lead to a ruptured tendon advanced age (decrease blood supply to tendons) and steroid injections to treat tendinitis. Medications such as quinolone antibiotics (ciprofloxin, levofloxin) and certain diseases (gout, hyperparathyroidism) are associated with increased chances of developing a ruptured tendon.

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.