Patellar tendonitis and patellar tendinopathy

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.

  • Poor flexibility

  • Wide hips

  • Knock kneed

  • Flat feet

  • Obesity

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

Medications

Rehabilitation

  • A home exercise program or physical therapy can help rehabilitate the patellar tendon.

Injections

  • This study showed platelet rich plasma injection in combination with rehabilitation is effective in reducing pain and improving activity level.

Persistent pain despite conservative measures may require surgery.


Exercises for patellar tendinopathy


Patellar tendinopathy stretches and exercises



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Disclaimer: Pictures were taken without permission from the Sports Medicine Patient Advisor. They are intended for educational purposes only.