Patellar Tendinitis

Patellar Tendinitis

What is Patellar Tendinitis?

Patellar tendinitis, also known as jumper’s knee or Sinding-Larsen-Johansson disease, is a common injury or inflammation of the tendon connecting the kneecap (patella) to the shin bone (patellar tendon). While anyone can get patellar tendinitis, it is more frequent among athletes who play sports involving frequent jumping, such as basketball or volleyball.

What are the Symptoms?

Pain and tenderness at the base of your kneecap are usually the first symptoms of patellar tendinitis. Your pain may be mild or severe, and you may initially only feel pain as you begin physical activity or just after an intense workout. You may also have some swelling and a burning feeling in the kneecap. Eventually, the pain may interfere with daily movements such as climbing up or down stairs, kneeling down or getting up from a squat.

What are the Causes?

Patellar tendinitis is caused by repetitive stress on the knee, most often from overuse in sports or exercise. The repetitive stress on the knee results in tiny tears in the tendon, which your body attempts to repair.

  • Contributing factors can include:
  • Tight leg muscles
  • Uneven leg muscle strength
  • Misaligned feet, ankles, and legs
  • Obesity
  • Shoes without enough padding
  • Hard playing surfaces
  • Chronic diseases that weaken the tendon

How Can it Be Prevented?

Patellar tendinitis prevention tips include:

  • Stop when you feel pain. As soon as you notice exercise-related knee pain, ice the area and rest. Until your knee is pain-free, avoid activities that put stress on your patellar tendon.
  • Strengthen your muscles. Strong thigh muscles are better able to handle the stresses that can cause patellar tendinitis. Eccentric exercises, which involve lowering your leg very slowly after extending your knee, are particularly helpful.
  • Improve your technique. To be sure you’re using your body correctly, consider taking lessons or getting professional instructions when starting a new sport or using exercise equipment.

What are the Treatments?

Non-Surgical

  • Patellar tendinitis is typically first treated with a variety of non-surgical treatments, including:
  • Resting the knee
  • Icing the knee
  • Over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
  • Physical Therapy
    • Stretching exercises. Regular, steady stretching exercises (without bouncing) can reduce muscle spasm and help lengthen the muscle-tendon unit.
    • Strengthening exercises. Weak thigh muscles contribute to the strain on your patellar tendon. Exercises that involve lowering your leg very slowly after extending it can be particularly helpful, as can exercises that strengthen all of the leg muscles in combination, such as a leg press.
    • Patellar tendon strap. A strap that applies pressure to your patellar tendon can help to distribute force away from the tendon and direct it through the strap instead. This may help relieve pain.
    • Iontophoresis. This therapy involves spreading a corticosteroid medicine on your skin and then using a device that delivers a low electrical charge to push the medication through your skin.

If conservative treatments don’t help and your pain is severe, your doctor may give you a corticosteroid injection in the area around your patellar tendon.

Surgical

In rare cases, if non-surgical treatments fail to relieve pain, your doctor may advise surgery to repair the patellar tendon.

Traditional surgery involves opening the knee to scrape the knee cap and tendon. More recently, arthroscopic surgery is used for this procedure. This involves making only four small incisions in the knee, and it has a shorter recovery time.

 

 

 

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