Patellar tendinitis – also known as jumper’s knee – is a common injury that involves the inferior patellar region of the knee. The inferior patellar region of the knee is comprised of a tendon that connects the kneecap or patella to the shinbone. The tendon contracts with the muscles to extend the knee when kicking, running or jumping.
Patellar tendinitis is common among athletes especially those who engage in sports that require frequent jumping. However, even those who do not engage in jumping sports could get patellar tendinitis.
Symptoms of Patellar Tendinitis
The most common signs and symptoms of patellar tendinitis are pain between the kneecaps, pain in the knee, inflammation, difficulty in walking properly, and limited mobility. The pain worsens when engaging in jumping sports such as basketball or volleyball. Eventually, the pain becomes so severe that a patient will not be able to take the stairs.
Causes of Patellar Tendinitis
This condition is often caused of trauma or overuse of the patellar tendon. Repeated stress of the patellar tendinitis causes microscopic tears in the tendon. As the body tries to repair the tears, overuse causes even more tears. Eventually, the tears weaken the tendon causing inflammation.
Treating Patellar Tendinitis
One of the quickest, most practical ways to treat patellar tendinitis is taking painkillers. Pain relievers such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium provide short-term pain relief from patellar tendinitis
If the pain persists, your doctor may recommend several physical therapy techniques to alleviate pain and promote healing. These therapies include:
Stretching the leg and knee muscles helps reduce muscle spasms and restore mobility. Stretching the muscles also help lengthen the tendon. Just make sure to avoid bouncing or jumping up and down as you stretch.
Weak muscle is one of the reasons why patellar tendinitis occurs. To strengthen the muscles and tendon of the knee and legs, you have to perform strengthening exercises. The exercises are very simple, similar to stretching exercises. The key is to strengthen the muscles without aggravating the symptoms.
Wearing Patellar Tendon Strap
This strap is used to apply pressure to the patellar tendon. This way, the force is directed away from the tendon and into the strap instead. A patellar tendon strap provides short-term pain relief from patellar tendinitis.
A corticosteroid is applied on the affected area and then a device will administer low electrical charge to allow the product to sink through the skin.
If say, the pain and inflammation persist despite going through rounds of physical therapy, treatments that are more aggressive are applied to treat the condition.
A corticosteroid shot is administered using an ultrasound-guided injection. The steroid-based solution is shot directly into the tendon to relieve pain and reduce swelling. Although effective, most doctors advise against corticosteroid shots. The drug can weaken the tendons over time, making them vulnerable to rupture.
Platelet-Rich Plasma Injection
This treatment is reserved to chronic patellar tendon symptoms. Platelet-rich plasma injection is relatively new so research about its effects is still ongoing. According to health experts, the injection promotes the formation of new tissues and reverses tendon damage.
If all treatments failed, your doctor could recommend reconstructive surgery of the patellar tendon. The procedure is done by making small incisions around the knee to repair the damaged tendon.