Edwin Diaz, the 28 year old closer for the NY Mets, tore his patellar tendon this past week while celebrating his teams win in the WBC this past week. This required surgery which he had on 3/16/2023. This is a significant injury which may have a large impact on his career and certainly changes the expectations of the NY Mets 2023 season.
The patellar tendon is the ligament that connects the patella (the knee cap) to the tibia (the leg bone). The patellar tendon typically tears during an eccentric contraction, meaning the quadriceps muscle is contracting as the knee is bending. This can occur when one comes down from a jump as the quad muscle fires and the knee is bending. Surgery is required to treat complete patellar tendon tears as the patella pulls away from the tendon and this needs to be reduced to allow it to heal properly. Surgery for the patellar tendon is done thru an open incision where suture is weaved in and out of the tendon and then sewn back to the patella. Many different techniques have been described for this. At Total Orthopedics we have described a technique that we use for patellar tendon repairs and quadriceps tendon repairs (the tendon on the other side of the knee cap) that shows improved strength and less gapping on repetitive flexion. This technique we developed was published in the journal Orthopedics in 2022.
Recovery after patellar tendon repair may take 8-12 months to return to professional sports. While there are no studies on return to play after patellar tendon repairs in the MLB there is a study on professional football players. In a study published in 2016 in the American Journal of Sports Medicine on different injuries that required orthopedic surgery patellar tendon tears in NFL players had significantly lower return to sport rates than many other injuries with a rate of return to sport of only 50%. They also had a significant decline in games played at 1 year and those that returned to play only recovered to baseline with respect to games played at 2-3 years after surgery. So in conclusion this is a very significant injury with no guarantee of return to play at the same level and the recovery may take an extended period of time.