What is patellar tendinopathy?
(Also called patellar tendonitis or “jumper’s knee”)
The patellar tendon runs from the quadriceps muscle (front of thigh) onto the shinbone (tibia). Working together, the quadriceps muscle on the front of the thigh and patella tendon enables a person to straighten their knee. In patellar tendinopathy, the tendon begins to degenerate or weaken.
This degeneration can occur anywhere between the knee cap and the tendon’s attachment to the tibia.
What are the symptoms of patellar tendinopathy?
Patellar tendinopathy causes pain in the patella tendon during running, jumping, stair-climbing, squatting, or any other movement requiring rapid, forceful knee straightening.
The most common causes of patellar tendinopathy are weak quadriceps, hamstring, and gluteal muscles and/or tightness in these same muscle groups.
Overuse or increases in physical training that are “too much or too fast” can also cause patellar tendinopathy.
How is patellar tendinopathy diagnosed?
Your therapist or surgeon will be able to diagnose the condition from your symptoms and by examining your knee. Sometimes a MRI scan or an Ultrasound scan is used to confirm the diagnosis.
How is patellar tendinopathy treated?
The first part of treatment involves things you can do on your own to reduce your pain. To ease your symptoms, you can:
Rest your knee and avoid activities or movements that make the pain worse.
Put ice on the outside of your knee when it hurts or after activities that cause pain. You can put a cold gel pack, bag of ice, or bag of frozen vegetables on the painful area every 1 to 2 hours, for 15 minutes each time. Put a thin towel between the ice (or other cold object) and your skin.
Take a pain-relieving medicine. Over-the-counter medicines include paracetemol or ibuprofen.
My knee doc may recommend a physiotherapy programme. Effective treatments include strengthening and stretching exercises for quadriceps, hip flexors, and gluteal muscle groups. Straps or braces across the patellar tendon may provide pain relief, but are not likely to assist tendon healing.
Any return to high level activity should be gradual to avoid “overloading” the tendons.
Ultrasound-guided “dry needling” and autologous blood also known as a Platelet Rich Plasma or “PRP” injection may stimulate a healing response in chronic tendinopathy and these interventions can be considered in some cases.
In severe cases that do not get better with physiotherapy and rest, surgery is sometimes needed. This usually involves removing some of the abnormal tissue from in and around the tendon.
Can patellar tendinopathy be prevented?
To help prevent getting patellar tendinopathy again, you can:
Gradually increase the intensity of your training
Perform stretching exercises following activity, when muscles are warm; stretching before activity does not prevent injury and may cause transient decreases in strength.
Before activity, perform a gradual active warm-up that involves the major muscles to be used.
Hold static stretches for 15 to 30 seconds; longer holds provide no additional benefit.
Stretch regularly (three to five days per week)
Have an expert or check how you run (a running gait analysis) to make sure you run the correct way.
Contact My Knee Docto arrange an appointment to discuss your treatment option.
Call 0161 4646399 today to arrange a consultation with Mr Gareth Stables.
Check out the links below for more information on patellar tendinopathy