Injury Tip Sheet: Patellar Tendinitis
Learn what you need to know to help treat and prevent this common knee injury
Kathy Weber, M.D., M.S.
Daphne R. Scott, PT, Dsc
- Commonly referred to as Jumper’s Knee
- Effects males twice as often as females
- Can effect up to 20% of jumping athletes
What you need to know
What is patellar tendinitis?
- The patellar tendon connects the kneecap (patella) to your shin bone (tibia)
- Tendinitis refers to the irritation and inflammation of any of the body’s tendons
- The patellar tendon, an extension of the quadriceps muscle group, helps your knee extend and push off the ground when your knee is bent
- Patellar tendinitis is a common overuse injury that results in inflammation of the tiny the patellar tendon
Signs & Symptoms
- The most prolific symptom of patellar tendinitis is pain and/or tenderness on the front of the knee, just below the kneecap, where the patella attaches to the shinbone
- While exercising pain can be sharp; after exercise an aching pain can persist
- Mild swelling in the kneecap region can occasionally occur
When should I see a doctor or other professional?
- You should see a doctor if the pain keeps you from your normal routine
- If the pain does not decrease after two or three weeks of self-treatment
- If the tendinitis is severe or becomes chronic, your doctor may also refer you to a physical therapist who may provide specific strengthening and flexibility exercises
- Patellar tendinitis is often the result of repetitive motion—typically seen in jumping activities such as volleyball or basketball but is also seen in repetitive activities such as running or soccer.
- Tight hamstrings and quadriceps can place additional strain on the patellar tendon
- Training too much, too quickly, without proper recovery time in between workouts
- Although anyone can develop patellar tendinitis, athletes that participate in jumping sports such as basketball or volleyball run a higher risk of developing patella tendinitis
- Athletes with weaker quadriceps and hamstrings or athletes who do not properly stretch before and after exercise are at risk for patellar tendinitis
- You may have a mechanical default, such as a tracking problem within your knee joint, that may increase your likeliness of developing patellar tendinitis
What you can do
- Always make sure your hamstrings and quadriceps are stretched before exercising; it eases the movement of the patella as your knee bends and extends
- Being overweight places additional stress on your knee joint and ligaments
- Avoid practicing on hard surfaces, when practical, and ensure that your footwear has proper support
Recommendations for Treatment and Rehab
- Treatment for patellar tendinitis includes icing, stretching, and strengthening. . You should ice the knee for 15-20 minutes every three to four hours in the initial stages of the injury. Your doctor may also prescribe anti-inflammatories to assist with alleviating pain and swelling and refer you to a physical therapist to assist in developing a comprehensive program including stretching, strengthening, modalities (ice and heat) and to address any biomechanical deficit that may be contributing to the tendinitis
- Rest is important for recovery. If the tendinitis is not given time to heal then it is possible for the tendon to rupture requiring surgery.
- Even after the pain subsides, continue strengthening exercises and stretching as part of your normal workout routine
What can I do to stay active?
- Lower impact activities like swimming, use of the elliptical trainier and cycling can help you maintain fitness while you are recovering from your injury
- Although the use of a stair stepper is lower impact than running, the repetitive use of stairs may aggravate your knee tendinitis and is typically not recommended
- Minimizing any exercise that increases or reproduces your pain will allow for a more expedient recovery
[swfobj src="http://www.gomoji.com/filebin/flash/gomoji.swf" width="500" height="500"]