Patellar Tendinitis (Jumper’s Knee)

Listen to the Pain

Patellar tendinitis, commonly known as “Jumper’s Knee,” is a condition characterized by inflammation and irritation of the patellar tendon, the robust cord of tissue that connects the patella (kneecap) to the tibia (shinbone). This condition is prevalent among athletes who engage in sports requiring frequent jumping and explosive leg movements, such as basketball, volleyball, track and field, and soccer, hence the moniker.

The primary symptom of patellar tendinitis is pain, particularly at the base of the patella, which is exacerbated by physical activity and relieved by rest. The pain may initially present only after physical activity but can progress to interfere with daily activities if the condition is not adequately addressed. Other symptoms might include swelling, tenderness to the touch at the patellar tendon, and a feeling of weakness or instability in the knee.

Patellar tendinitis results from repetitive stress on the knee joint, especially the patellar tendon, leading to micro-tears and inflammation. Over time, without proper rest and treatment, these micro-tears can accumulate, weakening the tendon and increasing the risk of larger tears. Contributing factors to the development of this condition include muscular imbalances, improper training techniques, inadequate footwear, and sudden increases in the intensity or volume of physical activity.

Diagnosis typically involves a clinical examination, with the healthcare provider assessing pain, swelling, and tenderness in the affected area. While imaging tests like ultrasound or MRI are not always necessary, they can be helpful in confirming the diagnosis and ruling out other conditions.

We Can Help

Treatment for patellar tendinitis focuses on reducing inflammation and pain while promoting healing of the tendon. Initial strategies may include rest, ice, compression, and elevation (R.I.C.E.), along with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain management. Physical therapy plays a crucial role in recovery, aimed at strengthening the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles to reduce strain on the patellar tendon and improve knee mechanics. In more severe cases, or if conservative treatments fail, more invasive options like corticosteroid injections or surgery may be considered.

Preventative measures, such as proper warm-up routines, strength training, and gradual increases in activity levels, are essential to avoid the recurrence of patellar tendinitis. With appropriate treatment and preventive strategies, most individuals can return to their normal activities without lasting effects.

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