What is Patellar Tendinopathy?
Patellar tendinopathy is a common overuse injury of the knee, also known as jumper’s knee. It is characterized by pain and stiffness in the patellar tendon, which connects the kneecap (patella) to the shinbone (tibia). This condition is most commonly seen in athletes involved in activities that require jumping and sudden changes in direction, such as basketball, volleyball, and football. The condition is also prevalent in runners and individuals who perform repetitive, high-impact activities.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Patellar Tendinopathy
The most common symptom of patellar tendinopathy is pain in the front of the knee, just below the kneecap. The pain may start gradually and worsen with activity. As the condition progresses, the pain may become more constant and severe, even during activities of daily living. Other common symptoms include –
- Stiffness and tenderness in the knee
- Swelling and inflammation around the patellar tendon
- Weakness in the knee and reduced range of motion
- Pain during knee flexion or extension
- Pain when jumping or running
How Can Patellar Tendinopathy Be Treated?
Treatment for patellar tendinopathy is typically conservative and can vary depending on the severity of the injury. The goal of treatment is to reduce pain, improve function, and prevent future injury. Some common treatment options include –
1. Rest and Ice
Taking a break from activities that cause pain can help reduce symptoms. Ice therapy can also help reduce inflammation and pain. Applying ice to the affected area for 15-20 minutes, several times a day, can help reduce symptoms.
Physiotherapy can help strengthen the muscles around the knee and improve flexibility. A physical therapist can also teach exercises to improve biomechanics, reduce stress on the knee, and improve performance.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help reduce pain and inflammation. However, they should be used with caution, as they can have side effects, such as stomach upset and gastrointestinal bleeding.
4. Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP)
Platelet-rich plasma therapy involves injecting concentrated platelets into the affected area to promote healing. This treatment has shown promising results in reducing pain and improving function in patients with patellar tendinopathy.
Surgery may be necessary in severe cases when conservative treatments are not effective. The surgical procedure involves removing damaged tissue from the patellar tendon and repairing any tears.
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- Cook JL, Rio E, Purdam CR, et al. Revisiting the continuum model of tendon pathology: what is its merit in clinical practice and research? Br J Sports Med. 2016;50(19):1187-1191. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2015-095422
- Khan KM, Cook JL, Bonar F, et al. Histopathology of common tendinopathies. Update and implications for clinical management. Sports Med. 1999;27(6):393-408. doi:10.2165/00007256-199927060-00004
- Malliaras P, Cook JL, Kent PM. Reduced ankle dorsiflexion range may increase the risk of patellar tendon injury among volleyball players. J Sci Med Sport. 2006;9(3):304-309. doi:10.1016/j.jsams.2006.03.017