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Complete Tendon Rupture

Complete tendon rupture (third-degree strain) often occurs in a degenerative tendon and is especially common in older athletes who return to sport after some years’ absence from training. These ruptures afflict badminton players in particular, and also participants in tennis, team handball, basketball, rugby, American football, and soccer, as well as long-jumpers, high-jumpers, and runners

Symptoms and diagnosis

Complete tendon rupture may become apparent as follows.
– The athlete may be aware of a sudden ‘snap’ followed by intense pain when the injury occurs.
– The injured athlete is unable to perform movements that require integrity of the affected tendon and its attached muscle.
– A defect, associated with pronounced tenderness, may be felt in the tendon.
– Swelling and bruising, indicating bleeding, occur soon after the injury.
– A thorough clinical examination will confirm the diagnosis.


The tendons most frequently affected by complete rupture are the Achilles, supraspinatus, biceps, quadriceps and patellar tendons.


The athlete or trainer should give immediate treatment. The doctor has a choice of treatment methods depending on the injury location.

– Nonoperative treatment is sometimes tried in recreational and elderly athletes. Complete tears of biceps tendons of the upper arm are, for example, often treated conservatively. There are also reports of successful nonoperative treatment of complete Achilles tendon tears in such patients.Conservative treatment includes functional training, but sometimes immobilization is necessary, e.g. in complete Achilles tendon tears. Mobilization, however, in principle should begin as early as possible.
– Surgery is often recommended as it allows early tension and early mobilization of the tendon. This allows the collagen to become correctly oriented, thereby securing good recovery of strength. The treatment, however, varies from injury to injury.

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