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Ruptured Tendon

Ruptured Tendon Causes

In general, tendon rupture occurs in a middle-aged or older man. In the young, muscle usually tears before the attached tendon does. But in older people and in those with certain diseases (such as gout and hyperparathyroidism) tendon ruptures are more common.

  • General causes of tendon rupture include:
    • Direct trauma.
    • Advanced age: As you age, your blood supply decreases. This decreases blood going to the tendon, resulting in weakening of the tendon.
    • Eccentric loading: When your muscle contracts while it is being stretched in the opposite direction, increased stress is placed on the involved tendon.
    • Steroid injection into the tendon: This treatment is sometimes used for severe tendonitis.
  • Quadriceps tendon rupture
    • Direct trauma to the knee just above the patella (kneecap)
    • Advanced age resulting in decreased blood supply to the inside of the tendon
    • Combination of quadriceps contraction and stretching of the muscle (eccentric loading)
  • Achilles tendon rupture
    • Advanced age resulting in decreased blood supply to the inside of the tendon
    • Strenuous physical activity by those who are not well conditioned
    • Direct trauma
    • Unexpected forcing of the sole of your foot upward as in landing on your feet after jumping from a height
    • Excessive strain while pushing off with the weight bearing foot
    • Having group O blood type (This is a controversial cause-and-effect relationship.)
  • Rotator cuff tendon rupture
    • Lifting a heavy object overhead
    • Direct trauma
    • Attempting to break a fall with an outstretched hand
  • Biceps tendon rupture
    • Forced flexion of the arm
    • Traumatic rupture usually occurs when lifting 150 pounds or more
    • Advanced age resulting in gradual weakening of the tendon
    • May occur spontaneously

Ruptured Tendon Symptoms

An injury that is associated with the following signs or symptoms may be a tendon rupture:

  • A snap or pop you hear or feel
  • Severe pain
  • Rapid or immediate bruising
  • Marked weakness
  • Inability to use the affected arm or leg
  • Inability to move the area involved
  • Inability to bear weight
  • Deformity of the area

Symptoms associated with specific injuries include the following:

  • Achilles tendon rupture: You will be unable to support yourself on your tiptoes on the affected leg (you may be able to flex your toes downward because supporting muscles are intact).
  • Rotator cuff rupture: You will be unable to bring your arm out to the side.
  • Biceps tendon rupture: You will have decreased strength of elbow flexion and decreased ability to raise the arm out to the side when the hand is turned palm up.

When to Seek Medical Care

Call a doctor if you hear or feel a snap or pop, have severe pain, rapid or immediate bruising after an accident, and are unable to use the affected arm or leg. You may have a tendon rupture.

Visit the hospital's emergency department whenever an injury occurs that produces severe pain and is accompanied by a pop or snap. Weakness, inability to move the area involved, inability to bear weight, and deformity of the area are other key symptoms that require a visit to the emergency department.

Because you know your body the best, if something appears to be serious to you, it is usually the best course to be conservative and have an evaluation.

WebMD Medical Reference from eMedicineHealth

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