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Patella Tendonitis

The patella tendon is made up of fibrous tissue that connects the patella (your kneecap) to the tibia (your shinbone). This tendon has an important role in allowing you to extend your knee to perform movements like kicking, running, and jumping. Athletes commonly suffer from patella tendon inflammation, commonly known as “jumper’s knee.”

Patella Tendonitis Hero Image 2

The patella tendon is made up of fibrous tissue that connects the patella (your kneecap) to the tibia (your shinbone). This tendon has an important role in allowing you to extend your knee to perform movements like kicking, running, and jumping. Athletes commonly suffer from patella tendon inflammation, commonly known as “jumper’s knee.” Patella tendonitis) causes pain below the kneecap that can begin to interfere with your sport and daily activities.

What causes Patella Tendonitis?

Patella tendonitis is commonly caused by overuse of the patella tendon, especially in sports that require a lot of jumping. Small tears can begin to appear in the tendon, resulting in inflammation.

Patella tendonitis is common in these sports:

• Basketball
• Soccer
• Volleyball
• Tennis
• Track & field (especially long jump and high jump)
• Skiing
• Gymnastics
• Dance

Symptoms

Patella tendonitis is characterized by pain just below the kneecap. Athletes with jumper’s knee may experience:

• Pain when with jumping and running
• Increasing pain over time
• Weakness in the knee

When to see a doctor

If you have pain below your kneecap that gets worse or doesn’t improve over time, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor to rule out a more serious injury. Your doctor will ask you questions about your knee pain, including how long you’ve been experiencing it and how it has affected your ability to participate in your sport and perform daily activities. He or she will examine your knee and may order an x-ray to rule out a bone-related issue that may be causing your pain. An magnetic resonance imaging test (MRI) may be ordered to detect tiny tears in your patella tendon and to rule out other causes of your pain.

Non-operative treatment

Patella tendonitis is always treated non-operatively. Home treatment may include:

• Rest and ice
• NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications like Aspirin) for pain, especially before physical activity
• Wearing a “patella band,” or patella tendon strap, to reduce stress on the tendon
• Wearing a knee support
• With rest and conservative treatment, athletes with patella tendonitis usually have a relatively quick recovery with only a short break from play. It’s important to to give your knee sufficient rest and avoid playing or working out until your pain has resolved. Physical therapy will play an important role in a prompt return to play. Once you’re back in the game, proper stretching and warm-up can help you avoid a repeat injury.
Physical therapy to strengthen and stretch the patella tendon

If your symptoms persist, your doctor may offer an injection of platelet-rich plasma (PRP).

You can also try these exercises at home:

Recovery

With rest and conservative treatment, athletes with patella tendonitis usually have a relatively quick recovery with only a short break from play. It’s important to to give your knee sufficient rest and avoid playing or working out until your pain has resolved. Physical therapy will play an important role in a prompt return to play. Once you’re back in the game, proper stretching and warm-up can help you avoid a repeat injury.

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