Jumpers Knee (Patella Tendonitis)

What is Jumpers Knee / Patellar Tendinopathy?

The patella tendon / ligament joins the kneecap (patella) to the shin bone or tibia. This tendon is extremely strong and allows the quadriceps muscle group to straighten the leg. The quadriceps actively straighten the knee in jumping to propel the individual off the ground as well as functioning in stabilizing their landing.

As such this tendon comes under a large amount of stress especially in individuals who actively put extra strain on the knee joint such as those who regularly perform sports that involve direction changing and jumping movements. With repeated strain, micro-tears as well as collagen degeneration may occur as a result in the tendon.

This is known as patellar tendinopathy or Jumpers Knee. It should be distinguished from patella tendonitis (tendinitis) as this condition indicates an inflammation of the tendon whereas tendinopathy is more about degeneration of the tendon.  

Treatment of Jumpers Knee

What can the athlete do?

This depends on the extent or grade of the injury. A more severe injury may require longer rest and may result in surgery. Rest from training In mild to moderate cases, adaptation of training to reduce impact and jumping activities may be suitable.

  • Apply cold therapy on a regular basis, especially after any form of exercise.
  • Wear a knee support, or jumpers knee strap to reduce pain and ease the strain on the tendon.
  • See a sports injury specialist who can apply sports massage techniques to the tendon and advise on a rehabilitation program.
  • Eccentric strengthening is usually recommended.
  • If the knee does not respond to conservative treatment,surgery may be required.
  • Treatment of patellar tendinopathy is slow and may require a number of months of rehabilitation in order to notice a decrease in aggravating symptoms. This may include several months of rest.
  • During rehabilitation the VISA questionnaire may be filled out to monitor the progress of the tendinopathy.

What can a Sports Injury Professional do?

  • Prescribe anti-inflammatory medication e.g. ibuprofen.
  • Use ultrasound or laser treatment.
  • Use cross friction massage techniques.
  • Prescribe and supervise a full rehabilitation programme.
  • A Surgeon can operate. If the injury becomes chronic then surgery is an option. A lateral release of the patella tendon is usually successful.

Two modes of treatment may be advised – conservative treatment and surgical treatment:

Conservative (non-surgical) treatment

This is normally advocated initially after diagnosis of patellar tendinopathy. Care must be taken so as to not overload the tendon. Treatment may involve:

  • Quadriceps muscle strengthening program: in particular eccentric strengthening. These exercises involve working the muscles as they are lengthening and are thought to maximise tendinopathy recovery.
  • Muscle strengthening of other weight bearing muscle groups, such as the calf muscles, may decrease the loading on the patellar tendon.
  • Ice packs to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Massage therapy – transverse (cross) friction techniques may be used.
  • Aprotinin injections may help tendinopathies by restoring enzyme balance in the tendon.

Non-Surgical Orthopaedics, P.C. specializes in the non-surgical treatment of knee and other orthopaedic injuries. Call 770-421-1420 or visit www.lowbackpain.com for an appointment today.

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