Question:

Dear TAI Experts:

I was recently diagnosed with a bruised or slightly torn patellar tendon after a bike accident. The doctor did not prescribe physical therapy, but I was wondering if there was anything I could do to treat this, other than rest and icing.

Answer:

I am unable to comment on your condition specifically without doing an examination but I can provide some general information regarding physical therapy for a tendinous injury. After injury to a tendon or ligament, there is a critical phase of healing that occurs 5-7 days after the initial injury called the proliferative phase of healing and continues over the next 3-4 weeks. It is in this phase that scar tissue is being placed over the injury site repairing the tears in the tissue. Administration of certain manual therapy techniques including ASTYM can be effective in promoting better alignment of the scar tissue leading to a stronger and more mobile repair. Also important to the healing process is to properly begin loading the muscle and tendon through a progressive flexibility and strengthening exercise program building the tendon or ligaments tolerance for tensile forces during contraction.

A physical therapy consult may be warranted for a comprehensive evaluation of the knee joint and integrity of the patellar tendon. In general rest, ice and elevation are essential during the acute inflammatory phase of injury or approximately 5-7 days after. Continued movement in a low intensity manner is important to prevent weakening of the quadriceps and other muscles of the leg that support the knee joint.

Brent McLeod PT, DPT