Patellar tendinitis, also known as jumper’s knee, is a condition that occurs when the patellar tendon, which connects the kneecap (patella) to the shinbone, becomes inflamed and painful. It is a common overuse injury that is often seen in athletes who participate in sports that involve jumping and running, such as basketball, volleyball, and track and field.
Causes of Patellar Tendinitis
Patellar tendinitis is an overuse injury that is caused by repetitive stress on the patellar tendon. The condition is often seen in athletes who participate in sports that involve jumping and running, such as basketball, volleyball, and track and field. The following are some common causes of patellar tendinitis:
Overuse: Repeated stress on the patellar tendon from jumping and running can lead to small tears and degeneration of the tendon.
Sudden Increase in Intensity: An abrupt increase in the frequency, intensity, or duration of physical activity can put extra stress on the patellar tendon, leading to inflammation and pain.
Tight Muscles: Tight muscles around the knee, particularly the quadriceps, can put extra stress on the patellar tendon, increasing the risk of injury.
Poor Technique: Improper jumping or landing techniques can put excessive stress on the patellar tendon, leading to injury.
Imbalance of the Muscles: Muscle imbalances, particularly between the quadriceps and the hamstrings, can put extra stress on the patellar tendon.
Footwear and Training Surface: Wearing inadequate shoes or training on hard surfaces can increase the risk of developing patellar tendinitis.
It’s important to identify and address the underlying causes of patellar tendinitis to prevent further injury and promote healing. A physiotherapist can help diagnose the underlying causes of the condition and develop an individualized treatment plan.
Signs and Symptoms of Patellar Tendinitis
The signs and symptoms of patellar tendinitis, also known as jumper’s knee, may include:
- Pain and tenderness: Pain and tenderness around the base of the patella are the most common symptoms of patellar tendinitis. The pain may be a dull ache or a sharp, stabbing pain.
- Stiffness: The knee may feel stiff and may be difficult to move.
- Swelling: There may be swelling around the patellar tendon.
- Weakness: The knee may feel weak, making it difficult to perform activities that require bending the knee, such as running and jumping.
- Pain during activity: Pain may increase during activities that put stress on the patellar tendon, such as jumping, running, or squatting.
- Pain after activity: Pain may persist after activity, particularly in the morning after a period of rest.
- Cracking or popping sounds: There may be cracking or popping sounds in the knee when bending or straightening the leg.
If left untreated, patellar tendinitis can lead to chronic pain and may require more extensive treatment, including surgery. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek the advice of a healthcare professional or a physiotherapist for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Treatment for Patellar Tendinitis
Physiotherapy treatment for patellar tendinitis can be very effective in reducing pain and promoting healing. The following are some common physiotherapy treatments for patellar tendinitis:
Rest: Resting the affected knee is essential to allow the tendon to heal. A physiotherapist may recommend avoiding activities that put stress on the patellar tendon, such as jumping, running, or squatting until the pain and inflammation have subsided.
Ice Therapy: Applying ice to the affected knee can help reduce pain and inflammation. A physiotherapist may recommend applying ice for 15-20 minutes at a time, several times a day.
Compression: Wearing a compression bandage or sleeve can help reduce swelling and provide support to the affected knee.
Taping: A physiotherapist may use taping techniques to support the patellar tendon and reduce stress on the tendon during activity.
Stretching and Strengthening Exercises: A physiotherapist may prescribe specific exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles around the knee, particularly the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles. These exercises can help reduce stress on the patellar tendon and promote healing.
Biomechanical Analysis: A physiotherapist may perform a biomechanical analysis to identify any underlying issues that may contribute to patellar tendinitis, such as muscle imbalances or improper jumping or landing techniques. Based on the analysis, the physiotherapist may recommend corrective exercises or changes to the patient’s training program.
Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT): ESWT is a non-invasive treatment that uses shockwaves to stimulate healing in the affected area. A physiotherapist may recommend ESWT for patients with chronic patellar tendinitis who have not responded to other treatments.
It’s important to follow the advice of a healthcare professional or a physiotherapist when seeking treatment for patellar tendinitis. With the right treatment and management, most people with patellar tendinitis can return to their usual activities without pain.
If you have any questions or would like to speak to a therapist about patellar tendinitis please call us at 03 9836 1126.
Reiman, M. P., Loudon, J. K., Goode, A. P., Weir, S. K., & Coss, M. (2015). Current concepts in the examination and treatment of patellar tendinopathy. International journal of sports physical therapy