Patellar Tendonitis describes pain around the patella, or
knee cap. Also known as "Jumper's Knee", Patellar
Tendonitis can result from activities involving a contraction
of the quadriceps. The quadriceps muscle is connected by a
tendon to the patella and then the patella is connected to
the shin bone, or tibia. When the quadriceps muscle contracts,
the lower leg extends through the patella tendon. A quick
and forceful contraction of the quadriceps is required to
power activities like kicking, explosive activities or jumping,
thus the term "Jumper's Knee". Patellar Tendonitis
can also result from any activity in which the quadriceps
muscle contracts, such as running, biking, skiing or climbing
Symptoms of Patella Tendonitis
The first signs of Patellar Tendonitis are usually pain and
stiffness. The pain can usually be localized to an exact location,
and is usually between the knee cap (patella) and where the
tendon attached to the shin bone (tibia). Jumping, landing
or certain side-to-side motions can cause a sharp pain. After
the activity, the pain usually subsides to a dull pain, and
the knee is stiff.
Causes of Patellar Tendonitis
Increasing levels of activity or intensity can cause Jumperís
Knee. In Arizona, the condition is common when beginning to
run trails on a regular basis. It can also result from increased
activity like jumping rope, playing basketball or lifting
weights. In endurance athletes, the repetitive nature of running
or cycling can lead to stress that causes small tears in the
tendon. The body is unable to heal the tears before the next
workout, and patellar tendonitis results after time.
from occurring in athletes who increase intensity or frequency
of activity, Patellar Tendonitis can occur in those with increased
body weight, patella alta, and muscular imbalance. Muscular
imbalance can cause the patella to glide differenty across
the patella fossa. Instead of moving smoothly, the muscle
imbalance causes the patella to rub against the bone by pulling
it to the side. This is especially common in those who have
chondromalacia patella along with patellar tendonitis.
Home therapy for Jumpers Knee
Recommended home treatment for Patellar Tendonitis includes
two weeks of decreasing the intensity and frequency of activity.
Ice and rest will help allow the patellar tendon to heal.
The greatest relief results from decreasing explosion, jumping
and climbing activities. Cyclists should double-check position
on the bike and may need a bike fitting to ensure proper form.
Runners should find flat ground and avoid climbing.
When to Seek Treatment for Patellar Tendonitis
If pain continues for several weeks after rest or increases,
you should seek treatment. The problem can usually be identified
by a physical exam, but sometimes advanced imaging is required
if the provider is concerned about internal knee damage.
In the early stages, Patellar Tendonitis can be easily treated.
Longer and more involved treatment is required for more severe
cases, and it is possible for the tendon to actually tear
in severe cases.
Treatment centers on managing muscle spasms, lowering inflammation
and decreasing pain. Your provider will evaluate muscle imbalances
and recommend stretches and exercises to correct imbalances
and prevent future occurrences. The patella may heal faster
with the use of a patellar tendon strap which decreases the
pressure on the patella.
Intensity and frequency of activity should be slowly increased
over time. Increasing the amount of exercise by less than
10% per week will prevent most overuse injuries, along with
ice and rest.
Seek help from an experienced provider before mild cases
of Patellar Tendonitis become severe injuries.
Back to Chiropractic Resources
Dr. Carson Robertson is in private practice at
Alpha Chiropractic. His clinic services the
chiropractic, massage therapy, and physiotherapy
needs of the Chandler, Ahwatukee, and Gilbert area.
He has a special interest in athletics, running, and
soft tissue injuries. Carson Robertson DC can be
reached at (480) 812-1800.