Tearing knee tendons v. ligaments

How much worse is it to tear the 4 big tendons v. the 4 major ligaments?

I can only speak to the patella tendon. I’ve torn it in both my knees in my youth, playing volleyball. It sucked - each time, my knee locked up for several days, and it took a long time to get back to normal. The first time was during try-outs for my club team. Argh.

Tendons heal. No surgery required in my case. I have some tendinitis, but I’m not convinced it’s actually worse than if I didn’t have the injury.

I haven’t torn any ligaments (yet)…so I can’t really compare. But not needing surgery…big win in my book.

Be careful with that, tendons and ligaments can have a tendency to weaken slowly over time and then suddenly completely rupture. If you are having to “warm up” to get rid of stiffness or pain, that could be a bad sign.

Incidentally, current thinking is that most “tendinitis” isn’t, in the sense that it usually doesn’t appear to be an inflammatory process. These problems to be lumped together as tendinosis. It’s still not exactly clear what’s going on, but best guess is that it involves an extended healing process. The tendon has to break tissue down as part of its remodelling process, and it may be getting into an extended cycle of breaking down tissue to address minor damage that never gets completely healed.

It’s something to be wary of because a lot of doctors are way out of date on this and still using NSAID injections that may actually weaken the tissue.

I’m not a medical doctor and I’m out of date on this (still very contentious) area, but I think it’s well worth doing some serious personnel research on these issues if you think you are having this type of problem.

I had a complete rupture of my ACL, yet I could still walk. It was quite painful and needed surgery. With a complete rupture of the Quad/patellar tendon you wouldn’t be able to extend the lower leg.

Ligaments provide stability and connection of bone to bone, while tendons attach muscle to bone and provide motion.


Partially torn tendons can heal. I completely tore my left achilles playing soccer, like it coiled up my calf close to my knee, that required surgery. Then a few years later, tore the other one partly. No surgery, but it still is not a strong as the repaired one, at 5+ years out.

I lived for 5 years without an ACL or PCL in one knee. Got along fine as long as I didn’t try anything fancy, like sudden turns or drashing across a street or stepping off anything higher than a stair.

If you actually tear a knee tendon, like all the way, I’m not sure you can even walk anymore, can you?