Patellar Tendonitis

Treatments for Jumpers’ Knee in Asheville

Pain or tenderness located on the front of the knee, just below the kneecap, is often due to patellar tendonitis, or inflammation of the patellar tendon. Commonly known as “jumper’s knee,” patellar tendonitis is usually highly treatable with conservative treatments, such as ice, physical therapy, compression and rest.

However, it is important to seek treatment from knowledgeable knee specialist if patellar tendonitis persists—severe or prolonged patellar tendonitis can lead to a partial or complete rupture of the tendon.

Where is the patellar tendon and what does it do?

The patellar tendon is a thick cord of fibrous tissue that attaches your kneecap to the top of your tibia, or shin bone (technically, it is a ligament because it attaches one bone to another). It helps your thigh muscles straighten your knee.

You can feel your patellar tendon working by placing your fingers below your kneecap while you knee is bent, and then straightening your knee.

What are the symptoms of patellar tendonitis?

The most common symptom of patellar tendonitis is pain on the front of the knee that gets worse with running, jumping, squatting, or using stairs.

Pain accompanied by swelling, bruising, instability, or the inability to straighten the knee may indicates a partial or complete rupture of the patellar tendon.

What causes patellar tendonitis?

Patellar tendonitis can arise for a number of reasons, including:

  • Increasing milage/duration or intensity too quickly.  This is a common cause of patellar tendonitis in runners.
  • A direct blow or immense stress to the knee or patellar tendon, such as landing very hard, making a quick start, or kicking with force.
  • Muscle weakness or imbalances. Weak quadriceps, tight hamstrings, and week foot arches can place added stress on the patellar tendon and lead to tendonitis

Diagnosing patellar tendonitis

At Carolina Hand & Sports Medicine, our knee surgery specialist Dr. Matthew B. Massey will begin by asking you questions about your medical history, activity level, and specific events that may have led to your injury.

He will then conduct a physical examination of your knee to test for strength and mobility. X-rays may be ordered to rule out damage to surrounding bones and tissues. If Dr. Massey suspects a rupture, he may recommend an MRI as well.

What are my treatment options?

Dr. Massey will recommend a treatment plan based on the severity of your symptoms and your desired activity level. In most cases, patellar tendonitis responds well to conservative treatments, including rest/activity modification, ice, anti-inflammatory medications, and compression. In more severe cases, the knee may be braced.

Once symptoms have improved, you will likely be given a strength and stretching program. This can be highly beneficial in both healing your tendonitis and preventing recurrence, helping to strengthen the surrounding muscles, improve flexibility, and resolve any imbalances contributing to your tendonitis. This article provides examples of common exercises prescribed to help alleviate jumper’s knee.

On average, patients who follow Dr. Massey’s instructions for non-surgical care are able to return to full activity within several months, if not sooner.

Surgery to treat severe patellar tendonitis

If you have not responded to non-surgical treatment, or if your tendonitis is preventing you from using your knee, Dr. Massey may recommend surgery to clean out the inflamed part of the tendon and/or surrounding bone.

In the case of a rupture, surgery is usually the only way to regain knee function. Surgery to repair a torn patellar tendon involves reattaching the tendon to the kneecap with sutures. Post-op rehab includes pain management and physical therapy; full recovery takes about 6 to 12 months.

If you are suffering from patellar tendonitis, you can trust Dr. Massey and our team at Carolina Hand & Sports Medicine to offer knowledgeable guidance and effective treatments to help you get back to your active lifestyle.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment.