Patellar Tendonitis

Overview

Made of tough, string-like bands surrounded by a vascular tissue lining that provides nutrition, the patellar tendon connects the kneecap to the shinbone. Together with the quadriceps muscle and tendon, the patellar tendon helps you straighten your knee and provides the strength to do so.

Patellar tendonitis is often known as "jumper's knee" and doctors at the FHCH Sports Medicine Program are well versed in its detection, diagnosis and treatment, utilizing leading edge techniques and technologies to restore strength and mobility and return you to your normal activities as soon as possible.

 

Causes of Patellar Tendonitis

When athletes put heavy stress on their knees, it can irritate the soft tissues around the front of the knee. This stress can be caused by a number of factors, including:

  • Misalignment of the kneecap
  • Complete or partial dislocation
  • Injury
  • Excessive training or overuse
  • Tightness, imbalance or weakness of thigh muscles
  • Flat feet

Other factors that lead to patellar tendonitis are overuse, muscle imbalance and inadequate stretching. Even pain that begins in another part of the body, such as the back or hip, can cause pain in the knee.


Symptoms of Patellar Tendonitis

The initial symptom is a dull, aching pain that is under or around the front of the kneecap (patella) where it connects to the lower end of the femur. The pain is especially noticeable when you walk up or down stairs, kneel, squat or sit with a bended knee for a long period of time.

 

Treatment

Treatment depends on the root cause of the problem that is causing the knee pain. However, patellar tendonitis does not require surgery. In the vast number of cases you simply need to stop doing the activity that is causing the knee to hurt and not resume it until you can do so without pain. This includes stopping all running and jumping activities.

As with many knee injuries, the R.I.C.E. method can also help control the pain and swelling.

RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation

  • Rest. Take a break from the activity that caused the injury. Your doctor may recommend that you use crutches to avoid putting weight on your knee.
  • Ice. Use cold packs for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day. Do not apply ice directly to the skin.
  • Compression. To prevent additional swelling and blood loss, wear an elastic compression bandage.
  • Elevation. To reduce swelling, recline when you rest, and put your leg up higher than your heart.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories like aspirin and ibuprofen can help reduce pain and swelling.

If the knee does not improve with proper rest, you'll want to see your doctor again for a complete medical examination to see if something else is causing the pain or preventing the knee from healing properly. Usually, runner's or jumper's knee gets on its better with early treatment and reconditioning.

Surgery is not needed for patellar tendonitis.

If you have questions about patellar tendonitis or want to make an appointment with us, please contact one of our Patient Care Coordinators and they'll be happy to help you.