What is Patellar Tendonitis or Jumper’s Knee? Causes, Symptoms, Treatment
What is Patellar Tendonitis?
Patellar tendonitis, also known as jumper’s knee, is a common overuse injury of the knee. It is most often seen in athletes who require frequent jumping or running such as basketball players and volleyball players. For most people, this condition is an annoying problem that causes pain when doing certain activities such as jogging or squatting. But for some people, there can be long-term consequences and complications that come with it.
This article will provide you with what patellar tendonitis is, you will also learn about the causes and symptoms, how to diagnose it, and what treatments are available.
What Are The Causes of Patellar Tendonitis?
Patellar Tendonitis is majorly caused by repetitive stress on the knee (overuse in exercise and sports). The repeated stress on the knee creates tears in the tendon; with time, this tear swells up and weakens the tendon.
Other causes of patellar tendonitis are:
- Uneven leg muscle strength
- Obesity or overweight
- Doing activities on hard surfaces
- Having tight leg muscle
- Misaligned legs, ankles, and feet
- Wearing improper shoes
- Suffering from severe diseases that affects the tendon
What Are The Risk Factors of Patellar Tendonitis?
Factors that contribute to the development of Patellar Tendonitis include:
Chronic Illness: Some illness weakens the tendons because of the disrupted blood movement to the knee. Examples of these diseases include kidney failure, metabolic disease like diabetes, and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.
Tight Leg Muscle: Having a tight hamstring or thigh muscle (quadriceps) at the back of your thighs can increase the risk of Patellar Tendonitis because they increase the strain and pressure on the Patellar tendon.
Physical Activity: Activities that involve a high-impact landing, jumping, and excess running like basketball, volleyball, and football are mostly associated with patellar tendonitis. A sudden increase in the intensity or pace of the activity can also increase the strain on our patellar tendon; thus, increasing the risk.
Muscular Imbalance: In a case where some muscles are stronger than other muscles in your legs, the stronger muscle pulls the patellar tendon harder than the others. This imbalance pull could cause patellar tendonitis; thus, increasing the risk.
What Are The Symptoms of Patellar Tendonitis?
The first symptoms of Patellar Tendonitis you will notice are; the base of your kneecap will be tender and painful. Sometimes, you may feel some burning sensation in your kneecap and the spot gets swollen. Another symptom you will notice is that whenever you kneel or get up from a squat, you feel pain.
At first, the pain may be sporadic, such that it comes only after intense activities like exercise or sports; but as the tendon becomes more inflamed and damaged, the pain becomes worse. If the pain becomes severe, it can interfere with your daily and athletic activities, such that sitting; standing, and climbing stairs becomes a problem.
Visit a doctor immediately when you notice swelling around your knee lasts more than a day or two.
How Do I Prevent Patellar Tendonitis?
You can prevent Patellar Tendonitis from happening to you at first or prevent it from happening again after recovery. These prevention tips are for everyone, including those that engage in sports or high-landing activities.
- Before any exercise, warm-up, and stretch
- After every exercise, cool down and stretch
- When doing sports or high-landing activities, wear knee support items
- Do exercises that support the knee and strengthen the leg muscle
- Avoid any activities on hard surfaces
- If avoiding activities on hard surfaces is not possible; minimize your jumping and landing on hard surfaces
How is Patellar Tendonitis Diagnosed?
Getting diagnosed by a proper medical doctor or healthcare provider is very important because the symptoms of Patellar Tendonitis resemble medical problems or conditions.
To diagnose Patellar Tendonitis, the doctor will ask you questions related to your physical activities, symptoms you experienced, self-treatment you tried, and past symptoms you had.
After this, the doctor may conduct a physical examination on your knee by probing where you feel pain and checking for the range of knee motion. To check for the range of knee motion, the doctor will bend your legs to all possible degrees and extend your legs with different forces.
In a situation where the physical examination observation is not clear or the doctor wants a confirmation to his observation; the doctor may require additional tests like;
- X-ray; to check if the bone in the kneecap is broken or if the kneecap is displaced
- MRI test; to view the tendon and check any damages on it
- Ultrasound; to check for any soft tissues damages on the tendon
What Are the Potential Complications for Patellar Tendonitis
If not treated, Patellar Tendonitis could become worse. This may make the damages to your tendon more severe; limiting your daily activities.
For athletes or sportsmen, resting the legs can be emotionally difficult; if care is not taken, Patellar Tendonitis can end their career.
How Do I Treat Patellar Tendonitis?
Treatment procedures for Patellar Tendonitis depend on the severity. The first line of treatment of Patellar Tendonitis is the conservative measures to minimize pain. Conservative measures include resting and stretching your legs to strengthen the leg muscle. Your healthcare provider should give a prescription controlled rest time, where you avoid putting force on the knee.
The following methods are used to treat Patellar Tendonitis
Physical therapy is done to minimize inflammation and pain and to strengthen and stretch your thigh and leg muscles.
If the pain is severe even when you rest your legs; your doctor may suggest you use crutches or wear braces to avoid further damage to the tendon. When the pain reduces, you can begin physical therapy sessions in full.
A therapy session includes a warm-up period, stretching exercises, strengthening exercises, and massaging of the knee. During your therapy session, you can tape your knee or use a knee brace to reduce pain and keep the knee in place.
Over-the-counter medication can help reduce short-term pain and inflammation. These medications include ibuprofen (Advil), Naproxen Sodium (Aleve), and acetaminophen (Tylenol).
Your doctor may give you a corticosteroid injection in the area around the patellar tendon if your pain is severe. This is a more effective method to reduce severe pain, but it may weaken the tendon and cause rupture if it is too much.
Another way to receive corticosteroid treatment is by spreading the medications over your knee using a low electrical charge to force it through the skin. This process is called iontophoresis.
This treatment procedure involves using a concentration of platelets from your blood to boost the tendon healing process.
This is the last treatment procedure. Surgery is done when other treatments or procedures could not successfully reduce or eliminate pain.
Traditional Patellar Tendonitis surgery involves opening the knee to clean, file, and scrape the tendon and knee cap. Nowadays, arthroscopic surgery is used for this procedure; this is done by making four small incisions in the knee.
Recovery time for Patellar Tendonitis surgery varies, and it ranges between three to six months. After surgery, a cast is always put on the knee to ensure immobility so the knee can heal.
What Are The Important Factors That Helps Recovery
To ensure your knee gets healed properly and recover fast, take note of the following factors:
- Stick your rehabilitation program
- Do regular exercises
- Pay attention to your knee and rest when necessary
- Use ice to help maintain legs in the right frame
- Use the right OTC remedies
- Ensure you talk to your doctor if the recovery period takes longer than expected
Patellar Tendonitis is also known as Jumper’s knee is a condition characterized by inflammation on your patellar tendon. These conditions can develop gradually and if not treated on time the severity can increase. The first line of treatment for Patellar tendonitis is to rest and avoid activities that will exert pressure or stress on your patellar tendon.
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