How to avoid patellar tendonitis

How to avoid patellar tendonitis

Patellar tendonitis is a knee injury affecting the patella tendon. It is common in athletes who jump and land with force.

The knee is made up of several parts, which can make it easy to injure. If a person feels pain or soreness around the knee, it is a good idea to rest and avoid intense exercise.

Consult a doctor or physical therapist about ongoing knee pain or discomfort.

How to avoid patellar tendonitis

Share on Pinterest Activites that involve jumping frequently may increase the risk of patellar tendonitis.

Patellar tendonitis occurs when the patella tendon is overstressed, which can happen when jumping or landing heavily.

The condition is often called jumper’s knee.

Patella is the medical term for the kneecap, and the patella tendon connects the kneecap to the shinbone.

Tendons are made up of strong tissue and join muscles to bones.

If a person applies extra stress to a tendon, tiny tears can develop in the tissue. This causes inflammation, but the injury often heals quickly. However, repeated strains may cause tears to develop faster than the body can mend them.

Patellar tendonitis develops gradually. The condition becomes more severe each time the tendon is overstressed, so it is essential to rest the knee after each injury. This will give the body time to heal.

Patellar tendonitis has several other names:

  • patellar tendinosis
  • patellar tendinitis
  • patellar tendinopathy
  • jumper’s knee

Tendinosis describes the gradual damage that repeated movement or ageing causes in a tendon. It is common in the knee, wrist, and elbow.

Tendonitis and tendinitis refer to inflammation of the tendon. An inflamed tendon is very rarely the cause of knee pain.

While research suggests that patellar tendinosis is a more accurate term, patellar tendonitis is still the one most commonly used.

Patellar tendonitis is usually caused when repeated activities gradually damage the knee.

It often affects athletes who jump and land heavily, such as basketball players.

Other activities that can increase the risk of patellar tendonitis include suddenly doing more exercise, or training on hard surfaces such as concrete.

The condition is most common in people in their teens, 20s, and 30s.

People who are taller and heavier may have a greater risk, as more weight can increase the pressure on the knees.

The main symptom of patellar tendonitis is pain and tenderness just below the kneecap.

The pain usually starts after exercise, and continued exercise will likely increase the discomfort. Jumping, running, and landing are likely to make the pain worse.

A person may begin to notice weakness in the knee, particularly during exercises that put pressure on this part of the body.

When the leg is straight, the area below the knee may feel tender when touched. The area around the knee can also feel tight or stiff, particularly first thing in the morning.

A large tear of the patella tendon is a serious injury, and a complete tear will separate the tendon from the kneecap. A person may hear a tearing or popping sound, and will feel significant pain. The knee may also swell and bruise. Walking may be difficult and a person may be unable to straighten the leg.

Ongoing knee pain or discomfort should not be ignored. Treating patellar tendonitis early can ensure a quick and complete recovery.

A doctor or physical therapist will diagnose this condition, after asking about symptoms, medical history and exercise routines. They will also perform an examination, during which a person may be asked to move or straighten their leg. The doctor will gently press the area round the knee, as the tendon often feels thicker on the affected side.

The doctor may also request magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or an X-ray to examine a serious tear and to determine whether the kneecap is in the right position.

Treatment for patellar tendonitis is usually focused on pain reduction. A person will need to rest the affected leg, apply ice to the area, and take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication.

Further treatment will depend on the injury, a person’s age, and how active they are. Small or partial tears can often be treated with rest and gentle exercises.

A doctor may suggest wearing a knee brace to keep the knee straight and help the tendon to heal.

A person should wear the brace for 3 to 6 weeks and may need to use crutches to support their weight.

Physical therapy can help to gradually restore movement as the tendon heals. A physical therapist may also recommend strengthening and stretching exercises to do at home.

A complete tear may require surgery, to reattach the tendon to the kneecap. Complete recovery may take 6 months.

After a person has recovered from patellar tendonitis, they can take steps to try and prevent future injuries.

Anyone who plays a sport in which jumping and hard landings are common, they can take the same steps to avoid getting injured in the first place.

Some ways to prevent patellar tendonitis include:

  • warming up and stretching before exercise
  • cooling down and stretching after exercise
  • wearing knee support when playing sports
  • doing exercises to strengthen the leg muscles and support the knees
  • avoiding jumping and landing on very hard surfaces, such as concrete

Patellar tendonitis can develop gradually, so it is not always easy to recognize. Anyone with ongoing discomfort or pain in the knee should see a doctor for a diagnosis.

Resting and bracing the knee gives a tendon time to heal. If pain continues, a doctor or physical therapist can recommend further treatment options.

How to avoid patellar tendonitis

Given the high-impact nature of running, it’s no secret that knee injuries are prevalent in the community. Along with runner’s knee and IT band syndrome, patellar tendonitis is one of the most common knee issues seen in the sport. The affliction is commonly referred to as “jumper’s knee” because it’s often seen in jumping sports such as volleyball and basketball, but runners are highly susceptible to the injury under the right (or wrong) conditions.

These expert tips can help treat, and ultimately avoid, the pain associated with patellar tendonitis.

What is Patellar Tendonitis?

The patellar tendon is an important part of your leg structure, connecting the kneecap to the shinbone. It also plays a key role in keeping the kneecap in line as the leg bends and straightens during each step.

Although the name may sound complicated, patellar tendonitis is simply an inflammation of the tendon surrounding the patella (which is just a fancy word for kneecap). Contrary to popular belief, patellar tendonitis is not an overuse injury, but it’s instead a result of misuse of the leg chain while running and jumping.

According to experts, misuse of the leg structure is largely caused by poor running form, which can exacerbate any weaknesses in the body — in this case, the knee.

“The knee is the weakest joint in the lower body,” says Denise Smith, an injury prevention specialist and owner of Smith Physical Therapy in Crystal Lake, Illinois. “So when something is off in the chain — either from the ankle up or the hip down — the knee (and everything around it) has to work overtime.”

This means that even though you feel pain in your knee, the issue likely lies elsewhere (such as your hips or feet). As the body continues to be subjected to less-than-perfect running technique, the weakest point (your knee) will become irritated and inflamed from being overworked.

Treating the Pain

If you feel a pinching or burning sensation underneath your kneecap in the beginning stages of a run or after you’ve completed your miles, you could be suffering from patellar tendonitis. And according to Smith, the quickest way to relieve the pain is to get rid of the inflammation.

“Anti-inflammatory medications are a good way to reduce the swelling,” she says. “You can also perform an ice massage on the area.” If you’ve cleared it with a physical therapist, she adds, you can help ease the pain with massage.

Taking time to stretch the areas surrounding your kneecap — including your hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors and calves — can also help to keep the joints and muscles flexible, relieving some of the pain. Foam rolling the area can increase muscle flexibility and ease pain, as long as you’re doing it correctly. Smith recommends angling your body 45 degrees so that you’re targeting the area where the IT band meets the hamstring.

Is it Avoidable?

Luckily, patellar tendonitis can be avoided with a number of proven prevention tactics. As we alluded to above, the first thing to address is your running form to avoid putting excess stress on the knee joint. In the case of the patellar tendon, you want to focus on your hips, lower back and ankles, creating a strong and supportive lower body chain. Running technique specialists or physical therapists can analyze your form and provide expert advice on perfecting it.

Strength training is also a crucial part of the equation, as proper running form will be impossible to maintain if your muscles aren’t strong enough to support the movements you’re asking of them. To strengthen key muscles, Smith recommends single leg glute bridges, standing clamshells and hip dips. She also prescribes squats and lunges to her clients, but only to those who have correct form, as these exercises can be difficult to master.

Balance, flexibility and mobility exercises should also be incorporated into your cross-training routine to round out your body’s ability to move efficiently.

“Yoga and Pilates are great ways to work on your balance and stability,” says Smith. “It can really help your muscles learn to fire together and work as a single system.”

As with many running injuries, overstriding (landing with your foot too far in front of you) is also linked with patellar tendonitis. To shorten your stride, focus on landing directly underneath your body, instead of in front of your hips. A quick cadence can also help shorten your stride. Count the number of steps you take in one minute, and try to work up to 180 steps per minute.

As a final prevention tactic, Smith stresses the importance of finding the right running shoe and replacing it when the shoe starts to lose support — usually after about 300 miles.

Without a strong support system (both internally and externally), your body struggles to keep itself in line and has to work overtime to compensate for these shortcomings. Fortunately, paying attention to form, strength and shoe choice can have a real impact on staying healthy and injury-free for years to come.

The patellar tendon joins the kneecap to the shin bone. A tear of the patellar tendon is generally as a result of forceful pressure on the tendon such as that generated with jumping.

How to avoid patellar tendonitis

About Patellar Tendon Rupture or Patellar Tendon Tear

The patellar tendon/ligament joins the kneecap and the front portion of shin bone. The patellar tendon is connected to the tibial tubercle at the anterior region of tibia below the knee and is joined to the lower region of the patella. Anterior to this the quadriceps tendon and quadriceps muscles are attached. This facilitates knee flexion and extension and actions such as running, ability to walk etc. [1]

Individuals who have had patellar tendon injuries previously such as Jumper’s Knee, or patellar degeneration because of age are more prone to rupture of the tendon. The tendon tends to lose its strength due to these conditions and when there is severe contraction of the quadriceps muscle such as when landing after jumping it results in tear of the patellar tendon, especially at the lowermost part of patella. Another reason which makes an individual more prone to patellar tendon rupture is corticosteroid injection given for inflammation in case of other medical condition of the patella such as Jumper’s Knee.

Causes of Patellar Tendon Rupture or Patellar Tendon Tear

  • Forceful blow to the knee.
  • Degeneration of the tendon with age.
  • Other medical conditions of the patella such as Jumper’s Knee and corticosteroid injections to the knee to control inflammation predispose the tendon to rupture. [2]

Symptoms of Patellar Tendon Rupture or Patellar Tendon Tear

How to avoid patellar tendonitis

  • Rupture of the patellar tendon is accompanied by severe pain.
  • A pop is heard when there is a rupture.
  • Knee swelling.
  • Weight bearing difficulty.
  • Inability to extend the knee or keep it in an extended position. [3]

Treatment for Patellar Tendon Rupture or Patellar Tendon Tear

  • RICE technique should be applied.
  • NSAIDs can be used for reduction of pain and swelling.
  • Immediate need for medical attention.
  • In cases where the patellar tendon is ruptured totally, surgical intervention may be needed to repair the injury. Repairing is done by suturing the tear.
  • Patient should be enrolled in a rehab program postsurgery.
  • Weightbearing needs to be avoided on the injured knee postsurgery.
  • A knee brace should be worn postsurgery to stop the knee from flexing.
  • Once there is complete healing, the affected individual should start exercises religiously to restore complete range of motion and to strengthen the quadriceps muscles.
  • Complete recovery from this sort of injury is very gradual and usually takes up to a year. [4]

Prognosis and Recovery Time following Patellar Tendon Rupture or Patellar Tendon Tear

Prognosis depends on the time taken for complete healing of patellar tendon rupture. Patellar tendon is the most used tendon and involved in all knee joint movements. The healing depends on the blood supply of the tendon. The blood supply is compromised when tear is large and wide. Inadequate blood flows to the tendon delay the time taken for complete healing and prolongs the recovery time. The treatment of tear of patellar tendon includes immobilization of knee joint for 4 to 6 weeks. The healing of patellar tear may take 4 to 8 weeks and following healing of the patellar tendon tear patient needs 4 to 8 weeks of physical therapy. In all recovery period for near normal activities is 8 to 12 weeks. Prognosis is satisfactory though patient may suffer with mild to moderate pain for several weeks after complete healing because of patellar tendon scar tissue interfering with muscle activities. [5]

How to avoid patellar tendonitis

Patellar tendonitis is a knee injury affecting the patella tendon. It is common in athletes who jump and land with force.

The knee is made up of several parts, which can make it easy to injure. If a person feels pain or soreness around the knee, it is a good idea to rest and avoid intense exercise.

Consult a doctor or physical therapist about ongoing knee pain or discomfort.

How to avoid patellar tendonitis

Share on Pinterest Activites that involve jumping frequently may increase the risk of patellar tendonitis.

Patellar tendonitis occurs when the patella tendon is overstressed, which can happen when jumping or landing heavily.

The condition is often called jumper’s knee.

Patella is the medical term for the kneecap, and the patella tendon connects the kneecap to the shinbone.

Tendons are made up of strong tissue and join muscles to bones.

If a person applies extra stress to a tendon, tiny tears can develop in the tissue. This causes inflammation, but the injury often heals quickly. However, repeated strains may cause tears to develop faster than the body can mend them.

Patellar tendonitis develops gradually. The condition becomes more severe each time the tendon is overstressed, so it is essential to rest the knee after each injury. This will give the body time to heal.

Patellar tendonitis has several other names:

  • patellar tendinosis
  • patellar tendinitis
  • patellar tendinopathy
  • jumper’s knee

Tendinosis describes the gradual damage that repeated movement or ageing causes in a tendon. It is common in the knee, wrist, and elbow.

Tendonitis and tendinitis refer to inflammation of the tendon. An inflamed tendon is very rarely the cause of knee pain.

While research suggests that patellar tendinosis is a more accurate term, patellar tendonitis is still the one most commonly used.

Patellar tendonitis is usually caused when repeated activities gradually damage the knee.

It often affects athletes who jump and land heavily, such as basketball players.

Other activities that can increase the risk of patellar tendonitis include suddenly doing more exercise, or training on hard surfaces such as concrete.

The condition is most common in people in their teens, 20s, and 30s.

People who are taller and heavier may have a greater risk, as more weight can increase the pressure on the knees.

The main symptom of patellar tendonitis is pain and tenderness just below the kneecap.

The pain usually starts after exercise, and continued exercise will likely increase the discomfort. Jumping, running, and landing are likely to make the pain worse.

A person may begin to notice weakness in the knee, particularly during exercises that put pressure on this part of the body.

When the leg is straight, the area below the knee may feel tender when touched. The area around the knee can also feel tight or stiff, particularly first thing in the morning.

A large tear of the patella tendon is a serious injury, and a complete tear will separate the tendon from the kneecap. A person may hear a tearing or popping sound, and will feel significant pain. The knee may also swell and bruise. Walking may be difficult and a person may be unable to straighten the leg.

Ongoing knee pain or discomfort should not be ignored. Treating patellar tendonitis early can ensure a quick and complete recovery.

A doctor or physical therapist will diagnose this condition, after asking about symptoms, medical history and exercise routines. They will also perform an examination, during which a person may be asked to move or straighten their leg. The doctor will gently press the area round the knee, as the tendon often feels thicker on the affected side.

The doctor may also request magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or an X-ray to examine a serious tear and to determine whether the kneecap is in the right position.

Treatment for patellar tendonitis is usually focused on pain reduction. A person will need to rest the affected leg, apply ice to the area, and take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication.

Further treatment will depend on the injury, a person’s age, and how active they are. Small or partial tears can often be treated with rest and gentle exercises.

A doctor may suggest wearing a knee brace to keep the knee straight and help the tendon to heal.

A person should wear the brace for 3 to 6 weeks and may need to use crutches to support their weight.

Physical therapy can help to gradually restore movement as the tendon heals. A physical therapist may also recommend strengthening and stretching exercises to do at home.

A complete tear may require surgery, to reattach the tendon to the kneecap. Complete recovery may take 6 months.

After a person has recovered from patellar tendonitis, they can take steps to try and prevent future injuries.

Anyone who plays a sport in which jumping and hard landings are common, they can take the same steps to avoid getting injured in the first place.

Some ways to prevent patellar tendonitis include:

  • warming up and stretching before exercise
  • cooling down and stretching after exercise
  • wearing knee support when playing sports
  • doing exercises to strengthen the leg muscles and support the knees
  • avoiding jumping and landing on very hard surfaces, such as concrete

Patellar tendonitis can develop gradually, so it is not always easy to recognize. Anyone with ongoing discomfort or pain in the knee should see a doctor for a diagnosis.

Resting and bracing the knee gives a tendon time to heal. If pain continues, a doctor or physical therapist can recommend further treatment options.

Knee pain is the bane of many a runner. Every step of every run we demand that our knees flex and roll forward seamlessly into a stride. When that flexion causes pain, though, it is impossible to ignore. One of the most common knee injuries found in runners in patellar tendonitis.

The patellar tendon runs from the kneecap to the shinbone (tibia) and, when injured, causes pain between the knee and the shin. In the initial stages of the injury, the tendon might only hurt during a workout or after a hard effort. As the injury worsens, though, the pain can affect the normal activities of one’s day. When attempting to determine if you may have patellar tendonitis, it is important to know the symptoms of other common knee afflictions.

Patellofemoral pain syndrome (aka- “Runner’s Knee”) is usually a dull pain in the front of your knee. Iliotibial band (IT band) syndrome typically leads to pain on the outside of the knee. Both are distinguishable from the pain under the knee that is caused by patellar tendonitis. Regardless of which symptoms you exhibit, if your knee pain persists for more than a few days, it is advisable that you lower your mileage or stop running entirely and contact medical professional so you can be properly examined and discuss the treatment methods for your injury.

There are a number of causes that lead to patellar tendonitis in runners, the most common of which are muscle imbalances in the upper leg or tightness in the hamstrings and quads. Several treatments have been found effective in alleviating pain caused by patellar tendonitis.

First, a patellar tendon strap can apply compression to the lower knee, supporting the patellar tendon and relieving pain. Next, a routine of stretching will loosen the muscles of the upper leg and release tension that can be tugging on the patellar tendon. Finally, incorporating exercises to strengthen your quads can fix muscle imbalances and add stability to your knee region. Here is a sample of three exercises that have been found effective in helping treat patellar tendonitis.

  1. Sitting Knee Extensions- While sitting in a chair, lift one foot out until your leg is straight and hold for 2 seconds before returning to the original position. Add weight to your ankle to make this more challenging. Do 20 repeats on each leg.
  2. Wall Sits- Stand with your back against a wall and lower yourself until your knees are at a 90 degree angle. Hold for 5 seconds, then return to a standing position. Repeat 10-15 times.
  3. Decline Squats- Stand on a board that is at a 25 degree decline. Lift one leg off the ground and squat slowly with your other leg. Once you are as far down as you can go, lower the leg that was raised and use both legs to stand up. Do 2 sets of 15 squats per leg. This exercise is challenging and complicated. If you feel excessive knee pain when attempting it, stop immediately.

Patellar tendonitis can stop you in your tracks, but if you recognize the symptoms early and begin a routine of stretching and strength work, you will be able to put it behind you and begin running again in no time.

The patellar tendon is vulnerable to overuse injury—known as “jumper’s knee.” Here’s how to prevent and treat patellar tendinitis.

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Patellar tendinitis (also known as “jumper’s knee”) is characterized by pain just below the kneecap and at the top of the tibia (the shinbone). The pain sharpens during leg exertion, but if the tendinitis progresses enough, any knee movement will hurt, especially doing stairs.

The patellar tendon connects your kneecap to your tibia. It’s one of the main reasons you’re able to extend your lower leg, and patellar tendinitis is a classic overuse injury—usually caused by violating the “too” rule: too much, too fast. Repeated stress on the tendon causes irritation that the body can’t repair fast enough, and pain results.

Ignoring the pain is a bad idea. Overusing an already overused and irritated tendon can cause tendinosis, a buildup of fluid in the tendon. Eventually, it could tear. Start treatment as soon as you feel the pain, and you’ll shorten both your suffering and your recovery time.

Fix Patellar Tendinitis

Take it easy. Once you are experiencing jumper’s knee, lay off hard exertion of the knee, especially jumping. Swimming is possible if you can do it pain-free. Otherwise, do intense upper-body and core workouts to maintain fitness.

Ice it. Apply ice to the knee for 15 minutes several times a day to help relieve pain.

Try a strap. A patellar tendon strap that goes around your leg just under the knee can support the tendon and relieve pain.

Massage it. Rubbing the patella area may help lessen the pain and promote healing.

Prevent Or Rehab A Patella Tendon Injury

Stretch your quads and hamstrings. Inflexible quadriceps and hamstrings can put extra stress on the patellar tendon. Basic, disciplined stretches of both muscles can both help prevent patellar tendinitis and help heal it.

Try eccentric training. Do leg extensions—however, lower the weight slowly after lifting it at normal speed. If you’re rehabbing the tendon, you can first do this the old-school way by having a partner apply resistance to your lower leg and then move to a leg extension machine as your rehab progresses. Lowering the weight slowly challenges the tendon and the muscles around it, making them all stronger. This helps prevent future patellar tendinitis.

NOTE: Normally I’m not a fan of leg extensions as a regular training exercise—they don’t mimic any real-world movement and put excessive torque on the knee—but in cases of rehabbing patellar tendinitis, used as described, they can be effective.

When To Call A Doctor

If these treatments don’t help your patella injury, see your doctor. He or she will examine and diagnose you and, if warranted, prescribe anti-inflammatories and physical therapy.

How to avoid patellar tendonitis

Given the high-impact nature of running, it’s no secret that knee injuries are prevalent in the community. Along with runner’s knee and IT band syndrome, patellar tendonitis is one of the most common knee issues seen in the sport. The affliction is commonly referred to as “jumper’s knee” because it’s often seen in jumping sports such as volleyball and basketball, but runners are highly susceptible to the injury under the right (or wrong) conditions.

These expert tips can help treat, and ultimately avoid, the pain associated with patellar tendonitis.

What is Patellar Tendonitis?

The patellar tendon is an important part of your leg structure, connecting the kneecap to the shinbone. It also plays a key role in keeping the kneecap in line as the leg bends and straightens during each step.

Although the name may sound complicated, patellar tendonitis is simply an inflammation of the tendon surrounding the patella (which is just a fancy word for kneecap). Contrary to popular belief, patellar tendonitis is not an overuse injury, but it’s instead a result of misuse of the leg chain while running and jumping.

According to experts, misuse of the leg structure is largely caused by poor running form, which can exacerbate any weaknesses in the body — in this case, the knee.

“The knee is the weakest joint in the lower body,” says Denise Smith, an injury prevention specialist and owner of Smith Physical Therapy in Crystal Lake, Illinois. “So when something is off in the chain — either from the ankle up or the hip down — the knee (and everything around it) has to work overtime.”

This means that even though you feel pain in your knee, the issue likely lies elsewhere (such as your hips or feet). As the body continues to be subjected to less-than-perfect running technique, the weakest point (your knee) will become irritated and inflamed from being overworked.

Treating the Pain

If you feel a pinching or burning sensation underneath your kneecap in the beginning stages of a run or after you’ve completed your miles, you could be suffering from patellar tendonitis. And according to Smith, the quickest way to relieve the pain is to get rid of the inflammation.

“Anti-inflammatory medications are a good way to reduce the swelling,” she says. “You can also perform an ice massage on the area.” If you’ve cleared it with a physical therapist, she adds, you can help ease the pain with massage.

Taking time to stretch the areas surrounding your kneecap — including your hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors and calves — can also help to keep the joints and muscles flexible, relieving some of the pain. Foam rolling the area can increase muscle flexibility and ease pain, as long as you’re doing it correctly. Smith recommends angling your body 45 degrees so that you’re targeting the area where the IT band meets the hamstring.

Is it Avoidable?

Luckily, patellar tendonitis can be avoided with a number of proven prevention tactics. As we alluded to above, the first thing to address is your running form to avoid putting excess stress on the knee joint. In the case of the patellar tendon, you want to focus on your hips, lower back and ankles, creating a strong and supportive lower body chain. Running technique specialists or physical therapists can analyze your form and provide expert advice on perfecting it.

Strength training is also a crucial part of the equation, as proper running form will be impossible to maintain if your muscles aren’t strong enough to support the movements you’re asking of them. To strengthen key muscles, Smith recommends single leg glute bridges, standing clamshells and hip dips. She also prescribes squats and lunges to her clients, but only to those who have correct form, as these exercises can be difficult to master.

Balance, flexibility and mobility exercises should also be incorporated into your cross-training routine to round out your body’s ability to move efficiently.

“Yoga and Pilates are great ways to work on your balance and stability,” says Smith. “It can really help your muscles learn to fire together and work as a single system.”

As with many running injuries, overstriding (landing with your foot too far in front of you) is also linked with patellar tendonitis. To shorten your stride, focus on landing directly underneath your body, instead of in front of your hips. A quick cadence can also help shorten your stride. Count the number of steps you take in one minute, and try to work up to 180 steps per minute.

As a final prevention tactic, Smith stresses the importance of finding the right running shoe and replacing it when the shoe starts to lose support — usually after about 300 miles.

Without a strong support system (both internally and externally), your body struggles to keep itself in line and has to work overtime to compensate for these shortcomings. Fortunately, paying attention to form, strength and shoe choice can have a real impact on staying healthy and injury-free for years to come.

What is jumper’s knee?

Jumper’s knee, also known as patellar tendonitis, is a condition characterized by inflammation of your patellar tendon. This connects your kneecap (patella) to your shin bone (tibia). Jumper’s knee weakens your tendon, and, if untreated, can lead to tears in your tendon.

What causes jumper’s knee?

Jumper’s knee is caused by overuse of your knee joint, such as frequent jumping on hard surfaces.

It’s usually a sports-related injury, linked to leg muscle contraction and the force of hitting the ground. This strains your tendon. With repeated stress, your tendon may become inflamed.

What are the symptoms of jumper’s knee?

Following are the most common symptoms of jumper’s knee. However, you may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Pain and tenderness around your patellar tendon
  • Swelling
  • Pain with jumping, running, or walking
  • Pain when bending or straightening your leg
  • Tenderness behind the lower part of your kneecap

The symptoms of jumper’s knee may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How is jumper’s knee diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical exam, your healthcare provider may use an X-ray to help diagnose jumper’s knee.

How is jumper’s knee treated?

The best treatment for jumper’s knee is to stop any activity that’s causing the problem until the injury is healed. Other treatment may include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs, like ibuprofen or naproxen)
  • Rest
  • Elevating your knee
  • Ice packs to your knee (to help reduce swelling)
  • Stretching and strengthening exercises

Key points

  • Jumper’s knee is inflammation of your patellar tendon, the tendon that connects your kneecap (patella) to your shin bone (tibia).
  • Jumper’s knee is a sports-related injury caused by overuse of your knee joint.
  • Common signs of jumper’s knee include:
    • Pain and tenderness around your patellar tendon
    • Swelling
    • Pain with jumping, running, or walking
    • Pain when bending or straightening the leg
    • Tenderness behind the lower part of the kneecap
  • Jumper’s knee is diagnosed by taking a medical history and doing a physical exam. Sometimes an X-ray may be needed.
  • The best treatment for jumper’s knee is to stop any activity that’s causing the problem until the injury is healed. Other treatment may include:
    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines
    • Rest
    • Elevating the knee
    • Ice packs to the knee (to help reduce swelling)
    • Stretching and strengthening exercises

Next steps

Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:

  • Know the reason for your visit and what you want to happen.
  • Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
  • Bring someone with you to help you ask questions and remember what your provider tells you.
  • At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you.
  • Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed, and how it will help you. Also know what the side effects are.
  • Ask if your condition can be treated in other ways.
  • Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.
  • Know what to expect if you do not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.
  • If you have a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
  • Know how you can contact your provider if you have questions.