What is patellar tendinopathy?
The patellar tendon connects the kneecap (patella) to the shin bone (tibia). Tendinopathy occurs due to wear and tear or overuse of the tendon. This causes significant pain in the front of the knee. Patellar tendinopathy is also called jumper’s knee.
How does patellar tendinopathy occur?
Patellar tendinopathy results from repeated stress of the patellar tendon. Common aggravating activities include jumping, running, hiking, and cycling.
There are many risk factors that can lead to patellar tendinopathy.
Patellar tendinopathy symptoms
Patellar tendinopathy causes pain and swelling over the patellar tendon. This can occur around the tendon itself or at the insertion on to the shin bone. The tendon will be very tender. It may hurt to bend or straighten the leg. Jumping, running, or walking may hurt - especially going downstairs.
Diagnosis of patellar tendinopathy
A physician can diagnose patellar tendinopathy by listening to your symptoms and performing a physical exam. Diagnostic ultrasound is also an easy way to diagnose patellar tendinopathy.
Ultrasound findings include:
Thickening of the tendon
Tendon fibers will appear darker than normal
Abnormal presence of blood vessels in the tendon
Patellar tendinopathy treatment
The patellar tendon heals slow, usually over the course of months. This is because the patellar tendon has poor blood supply. Most cases do well with conservative management.
Activity and shoes
Modify activity and avoid repetitive movements that cause pain
Orthotic inserts can help address flat feet and provide more arch support.
An infrapatellar strap can help provide support to the patellar tendon
A neoprene knee sleeve can provide support to the knee
Oral or topical anti-inflammatory medications can help decrease inflammation and control pain.
A home exercise program or physical therapy can help rehabilitate the patellar tendon.
Persistent pain despite conservative measures may require surgery.