Patellar tendinitis (also known as patellar tendonitis or colloquially as jumpers knee) is an overuse injury resulting from repetitive overloading of the extensor mechanism of the knee. This overloading then then progresses to inflammation of the patellar tendon (shown in the diagram on the left).
The patellar tendon connects your kneecap (patella) to the shin bone (tibia). This repetitive overloading causes microtearing of the tendon near its point of attachment to the patella. The result is patellar tendinitis.
Most individuals suffering from patellar tendonitis are between 10 and 16 years old. The incidence of this condition tends to be highest in sports involving jumping, like basketball or volleyball. Hence the alternative term “jumpers knee” for the condition. Risk factors include weak gluteal muscles and muscle tightness in the calves, quadriceps and hamstrings.
Symptoms Of Patellar Tendinitis
The main symptoms of jumpers knee are pain and tenderness around the patellar tendon (just below the kneecap). The patient may also observe swelling in the same area. The pain will tend to increase when running, jumping or walking, as these actions place additional stress on the patellar tendon. Other activities that may result in increased pain include leg bending or straightening.
Something to note is that similar symptoms are also present with other conditions like patellofemoral pain syndrome or chondromalacia). As a result, it is advisable to see a doctor if you experience these symptoms, instead of jumping to conclusions.
Jumpers Knee Treatment
Treatment of patellar tendinitis or jumpers knee usually includes rest as the primary component. In addition, doctors may suggest using NSAID medications for additional pain and inflammation control.
In addition, the patient may be advised to follow the remaining parts of a R.I.C.E. strategy by:
Using ice on the patellar tendon for additional pain control;
Wearing a knee strap over the tendon to apply compression for faster healing and further pain control;
Keeping the patellar tendon elevated over heart level as much as possible while sitting or lying down.
Additional treatment measures for patellar tendinitis may include stretching or strengthening exercises for the quadricep muscles that control the patellar tendon. These exercises will equip the tendon to better handle the stresses of running, jumping, etc.
Kinesiology tape can also be applied over the tendon for pain relief and to promote healing from patellar tendonitis or jumpers knee.