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Quadriceps Tendonitis

The quadriceps tendon is a band of fibrous tissue that connects the top of the kneecap (the patella) to the quadriceps muscles (the four muscles at the front of the thigh). The quadriceps are involved in all movements that involve straightening the knee, like jumping, kicking, and running. The quadriceps tendon can become painfully inflamed due to overuse in sports, a condition called quadriceps tendonitis.

Quadriceps Tendonitis Hero Image 2

The quadriceps tendon is a band of fibrous tissue that connects the top of the kneecap (the patella) to the quadriceps muscles (the four muscles at the front of the thigh). The quadriceps are involved in all movements that involve straightening the knee, like jumping, kicking, and running. The quadriceps tendon can become painfully inflamed due to overuse in sports, a condition called quadriceps tendonitis.

What causes Quadriceps Tendonitis?

Quadriceps tendonitis is usually an overuse injury that occurs most often in sports that involve jumping. It can be caused by repeated stress on the quadriceps tendon during practice and play, especially without a proper warm-up routine or if you suddenly increase the intensity or duration of your practices. Quadriceps tendonitis may occur more frequently in older athletes.

Quadriceps tendonitis is common in these sports:

• Running

• Basketball

• Soccer

• Volleyball

• Track & field (especially long jump and high jump)

Symptoms

Quadriceps tendonitis causes pain just above the kneecap. Specifically, athletes with quadriceps tendonitis may experience:

• Pain that is worse with activity

• Pain when straightening the knee from a bent position

• Pain with running or jumping

When to see a doctor

If you have pain above your kneecap that doesn’t improve over time, you should make an appointment with your doctor. He or she will ask you questions about your symptoms and examine your knee to determine whether quadriceps tendonitis is responsible for your pain, or if you may have a more serious injury. The physical exam will include checking the range of motion in your knee and assessing tenderness around your knee. Your doctor may also ask you to extend your leg in front of you while sitting to check your quadriceps tendon function. Sometimes, your doctor will order an x-ray to rule out a fracture or an MRI to check for a quadriceps tendon tear.

Non-operative treatment

Quadriceps tendonitis is always treated non-operatively. Conservative treatments include:

• Rest from your sport

• Icing above the knee to reduce inflammation

• NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications like aspirin) to relieve pain

• Taping your knee or using a brace

• Physical therapy, including stretching and strengthening exercises for the quadriceps tendon

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

You can also try these exercises at home:

 

Quadriceps Tendonitis

Recovery

Most athletes have a relatively quick recovery after quadriceps tendonitis. The best things you can do to get back in the game sooner are identify quadriceps tendonitis early, give yourself adequate rest from your sport, and adhere to physical therapy recommendations. It’s important to wait to be pain-free before you begin play. To avoid a repeat injury, focus on warm-up and stretching both before and after you play.

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