Patellar Tendinitis

Understanding Your Condition

What is patellar tendinitis?

Tendinitis occurs when a tendon is irritated or inflamed. Tendons are thick and fibrous cords that attach muscles to bones. The patellar tendon is used in kicking, running, and jumping motions and works in conjunction with the muscles at the front of the thigh so that the knee extends during these movements. The patellar tendon connects the kneecap to the shinbone. Commonly referred to as jumper’s knee, patellar tendinitis is more common in those who participate in sports such as basketball or volleyball.

What are the causes and symptoms of patellar tendinitis?

Before they see a doctor to treat patellar tendinitis, patients may want to ice the area and temporarily cease activities that trigger their symptoms. Factors that can contribute to the development of patellar tendinitis include uneven muscle strength in the legs, misaligned legs or feet, improper footwear, tight leg muscles, obesity, and chronic diseases associated with weakened tendons. Patellar tendinitis can also be caused by intense athletic training. Patients may notice pain as the first symptom of patellar tendinitis. The pain usually occurs in the area of the knee between the kneecap and where the patellar tendon attaches to the tibia. The pain may develop gradually. The patient may first notice pain only after intense workouts or physical activity, and over time the pain can worsen and occur during normal daily movements. Patients may also notice pain when climbing stairs or getting up from a sitting position. Other symptoms of patellar tendinitis include swelling and a burning sensation in the kneecap.

How is patellar tendinitis diagnosed and treated?

To diagnose patellar tendinitis, a doctor or allied health provider will conduct a history and physical exam. They will ask the patient questions about activity levels, their symptoms and when they occur, and if remedies such as rest or icing the area have relieved the pain. They will also measure the range of motion in the knee joint. The physician may also order imaging tests such as x-rays, MRIs or ultrasounds to confirm the diagnose and rule out other diagnoses. Treatment for patellar tendinitis involves resting the affected leg, taking over-the-counter pain relievers, and icing the area. Physical therapy can also be prescribed in order to strengthen the leg and thigh muscles in order to reduce pain and inflammation. In very severe cases where symptoms do not subside with treatment, surgery may be used to repair the tendon. Patients should follow all of their doctor and physical therapist’s recommendations in order to regain optimal mobility.

Make an appointment with a specialist at Mobility Bone & Joint Institute to discuss your options.

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