Patellar tendonitis is a commonly occurring inflammation or injury of the tendon that attaches the kneecap (patella) to the shinbone (tibia). The pain caused by this condition may be mild or severe.
Patellar tendonitis can occur in anyone. However, it is such a common injury of athletes, particularly those who play basketball and volleyball, that it is known as jumper’s knee. An estimated 14.4 percent of recreational volleyball players have jumper’s knee.
In top professional athletes, the prevalence of patellar tendonitis is even higher. Approximately 40 to 50 percent of top volleyball players have jumper’s knee.
Board certified orthopedic surgeons Dr. Steven C. Thomas and Dr. Gregory T. Bigler provide procedures for the knee and shoulder to patients in Las Vegas, Nevada as well as Greater Pahrump, Bullhead City, Lake Havasu, Mesquite, NV, and surrounding communities.
What exactly causes Patellar tendonitis?
Patellar tendonitis develops due to repetitive stress on the knee, usually from overuse in exercise or sports. The recurring pressure on the knee causes small tears in the tendon that, over time, swell, and weaken the tendon.
The factors that contribute to this condition are as follows:
- Uneven leg muscle strength
- Tight leg muscles
- Hard playing surfaces
- Misaligned feet, ankles, and legs
- Shoes without sufficient padding
- Chronic diseases that weaken the tendon
Athletes are at a higher risk as jumping, running, and squatting put more pressure on the patellar tendon. For instance, running can create a force of up to five times a person’s body weight on their knees.
Extended durations of intense sports training are associated with jumper’s knee.
What are the Symptoms of Patellar Tendonitis?
The initial symptoms of patellar tendonitis are pain and tenderness at the base of the kneecap. The patient may also experience some inflammation and a burning sensation in their kneecap. Getting up from a squat or kneeling down can be particularly painful.
Initially, the pain may be sporadic, developing only after exercise activity or sports. The pain can worsen as the tendon becomes more damaged. It can interfere with any athletic activity and daily tasks such as sitting in a vehicle or climbing stairs.
The patient should consult a doctor if any pain and inflammation persist for more than one or two days.
What’s a typical Treatment Plan?
The treatment approach depends on the severity of the injury.
Conservative approaches to reduce pain, rest the leg, and stretch and strengthen the leg muscles are usually the first line of treatment. The doctor will typically advise the patient a duration of controlled rest, where they avoid activity that puts stress on the knee.
The doctor may prescribe over-the-counter (OTC) medications for short-term pain and swelling reduction, including:
- naproxen sodium (Aleve)
- ibuprofen (Advil)
- acetaminophen (Tylenol)
In case the pain is severe, the doctor may give the patient a corticosteroid injection in the region around the patellar tendon, which is most effective in the reduction of severe pain.
The objective of physical therapy is to reduce the pain and swelling and to stretch and strengthen the thigh and leg muscles.
In case the pain is severe even when the patient is resting their legs, the doctor may advise the patient to wear a brace and use crutches for a while to avoid additional damage to the tendon. The patient can start physical therapy activities when they are relatively pain-free.
Board certified orthopedic surgeons at the Thomas and Bigler Knee & Shoulder Institute receive patients from Las Vegas, Nevada as well as Greater Pahrump, Bullhead City, Lake Havasu, Mesquite, NV, and nearby areas for knee and shoulder procedures.
If you would like to schedule an appointment or learn more about the Knee and Shoulder Institute procedures & treatments performed by Las Vegas, Nevada board-certified surgeons Steven C. Thomas, MD and Gregory T. Bigler, MD. Contact the office today click here.
Serving patients from and around greater Las Vegas, Lake Havasu, Bullhead City, Mesquite, Pahrump, Nevada.