What is Patellar Tendonitis?

Patellar tendinitis is an overuse injury that affects the patella. That’s the tendon that connects your kneecap to your shinbone. This injury is common among athletes in sports that involve frequent jumping, which is why it’s also known as jumper’s knee

What Causes Patellar Tendonitis?

This injury is caused by repeated stress on the patellar tendon. This tendon works with the muscles in your leg to enable you to walk, kick, and jump. But too much stress can make tiny tears in the tendon, which causes pain and weakness.

It often occurs in athletes in sports such as:

  • Basketball
  • Volleyball
  • Gymnastics
  • Football
  • Tennis
  • Track and field
  • Dancing

There are also several risk factors based on everything from medical history to your technique in sports:

  • Past knee injuries or surgeries
  • Wearing improper footwear
  • Weak muscles around the knee joint
  • Inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis
  • Certain other health conditions like diabetes and osteoarthritis
  • Improper sports training or technique

Signs and Symptoms of Patellar Tendonitis

Here are some of the most common symptoms of jumper’s knee:

  • Knee pain
  • Knee swelling and redness
  • Knee stiffness and weakness 
  • Pain that increases when you bend your knee
  • Reduced range of motion

The pain of patellar tendonitis also tends to gradually worsen. When it first appears, you may only notice it at the start or immediately after physical activity. As the pain worsens, it may begin interfering with your participation in sports. And eventually, the pain can get bad enough that it interferes with your routine movements, like rising from a chair.

How is Patellar Tendonitis Treated?

There is a variety of treatments for patellar tendonitis:

  • At-home treatments such as:
    • Apply ice packs to help reduce swelling
    • Rest the injury
    • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Physiotherapy
  • Corticosteroid injection to relieve pain
  • Platelet-rich plasma injection to promote the formation of new tissue
  • Surgery (only in rare cases where other treatments fail)

Physiotherapy for Patellar Tendonitis

Physical therapy provides a non-invasive, drug-free option for treating patellar tendonitis. Our physiotherapists know how to uncover the root cause of your issues and create custom treatment plans to solve them. Your custom treatment can include a variety of therapies such as:

  • Exercise and stretching programs: For increasing your strength, flexibility, and stability
  • Patient education and retraining: Provides guidance on preventing future issues
  • Functional braces and straps Can relieve pain and protect the injury while it heals 
  • Aqua therapy: Enables you to return to exercise sooner and heal faster
  • Custom orthotics: Can provide support and cushioning that’s tailored to your needs, helping you to move more naturally.
  • Related pain-relieving therapies such as:
    • Massage therapy
    • Acupuncture
    • Laser therapy
    • Interferential current therapy (IFC)
    • TENS therapy

How to Prevent Patellar Tendonitis

There are a number of ways you can reduce your risk of developing patellar tendonitis: 

Strengthen your leg muscles: Stronger muscles in the legs can support your knee joints better, reducing the risk for all types of knee injuries.

Use proper technique: When you’re starting to play a new sport, get some professional guidance to ensure you’re performing it properly and safely.

Don’t skip the warm-up: Always properly warm-up and stretch before athletic activities.

Book an Appointment

Just like any other overuse injury, if you try to work through the pain of jumper’s knee, it can get much worse. So don’t hesitate to book an appointment and learn more about how we can help you.