Patellar Tendinitis is a condition commonly
called "Jumper's Knee." Jumpers knee describes pain
around the patella or knee cap. The tendon connects
the quadriceps muscle to patella and then patella to
the tibia or shin bone. Contraction of the
quadriceps muscle causes the lower leg to extend
through the patella tendon. Activities that involve
kicking, jumping, or explosion rely on quick and
forceful contraction of the quadriceps muscle for
power. These forceful activities are common in
sports involving jumping, thus the term jumpers
knee. However, Patellar Tendonitis can occur in any
activity that involves contraction of the
quadriceps, including running, biking, skiing, or
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Symptoms of Patella Tendonitis
Pain and stiffness are usually the first sign of
jumper's knee. The pain can be sharp during the
activity, especially when jumping or landing.
Certain side-to-side motions can cause a sharp
stabbing pain. Afterwards, the pain is usually dull
and the knee feels stiff. The pain is usually
located between the knee cap (patella) and where the
tendon attaches to the shinbone (tibia). Usually,
the pain can be localized to an exact location.
Causes of "Jumper's Knee"
Patella Tendonitis usually occurs after
increasing activity or intensity of exercise. For
example, playing more basketball, jumping rope, or
lifting weights can cause Jumper's Knee. It is
common in Arizona when beginning to run trails at
South Mountain or running trails a couple days a
week. In endurance athletes, it is an overuse
injury. The repetitive nature of running or cycling
slowly stresses the tendon and leads to tendonitis.
The repetitive stress causes small tears in the
tendon that the body is unable to heal before the
next activity. Eventually the small tears lead to
As previously mentioned, patellar tendonitis is
common in athletes who increase their intensity or
frequency of activities. Other factors that can
cause patellar tendonitis include increased body
weight, patella alta, and muscular imbalance. The
muscular imbalance causes the patella to track, or
glide, differently. Instead of traveling smoothly
across the patella fossa, the muscle imbalance pulls
the patella to the side, causing it to rub against
the bone. This is especially common in people who
chondromalacia patella and patellar tendonitis
at the same time.
Home therapy for Jumpers Knee
At home, ice and rest will allow the patellar
tendon to heal. Two weeks of decreasing the
intensity and frequency of activity can resolve the
pain in many circumstances. Decreasing explosion,
jumping, or climbing activities provide the greatest
relief. Runners should find flat ground and cyclists
should double-check their position on the bike. For
cyclists, it might be an indicator to get a bike
fitting or to check your form.
When to Seek Treatment for Patellar Tendonitis
Pain that has continued for several weeks after
rest or is increasing should be cause for concern. A
physical exam can usually identify the problem,
though sometimes advanced imaging may be ordered if
the provider is concerned about internal knee
Treatment involves decreasing the pain, managing
muscle spasms, and lowering inflammation. Muscle
imbalances are evaluated at this time. Exercises and
stretches are given to correct imbalances and
prevent future occurrences. A patellar tendon strap
can be used to decrease the pressure on the patella,
allowing it to heal faster.
Mild cases of patella tendonitis can easily be
treated. The more severe the case, the longer and
more involved treatment becomes. In severe cases,
the tendon can actually tear.
As with any physical exercise or activity, slowly
increase the intensity and frequency of activity.
Increasing the amount of exercise by less than 10%
per week will prevent most overuse injuries. Ice and
rest are also important to prevent overuse injuries.
Patellar Tendonitis can be easily treated by an
experienced provider. Seek help before mild cases
become severe injuries.
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