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Patellar Tendonitis

Patellar Tendonitis (Jumper’s Knee or Runner’s Knee)

Patellar Tendonitis

Tendonitis (also spelled tendinitis) is the irritation or inflammation of the tendons (thick fibrous bands of tissues that attach muscles to bones).

Think of a tendon like an elastic band that stretches when you move. Tendons also help absorb some of the shocks from your muscles when you move.

Tendonitis can occur in many parts of the body, but typically happens in areas where there are more significant amounts of movement, like the knees.

Patellar tendonitis occurs when the patellar tendon that connects the patella (knee cap) to your tibia (shin bone) becomes inflamed or injured, weakening the tendon.

Causes | Symptoms | Treatment | Prevention

What Causes Patellar Tendonitis?

Patellar tendonitis is typically caused by a sudden injury to the patellar tendon, such as from jumping and running like in gymnastics, basketball, football, dancing, tennis, volleyball and track and field. 

This is why it is sometimes called “runner’s knee” or “jumper’s knee.” 

Risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing patellar tendonitis include:

  • Sports that involve repetitive movements like jumping and running
  • Past knee surgery 
  • Past injuries such as a knee fracture or dislocation
  • Weak or inflexible knee muscles
  • Overloading the knee joint
  • Improper technique or training in sport
  • Trauma, like hitting your knee against something, or falling
  • Improper footwear
  • Diabetes
  • Inflammatory diseases like gout and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Increasing age, though it is most common in athletes aged 15-30

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Patellar Tendonitis?

Depending on the cause of your patellar tendonitis, signs and symptoms may include:

  • Redness, inflammation and swelling
  • Tenderness, pain, or stiffness in the knee
  • Pain that gets worse when you bend your knee, like using the stairs or the action of sitting down, squatting, or kneeling
  • Pain after sitting for a long period of time with your knees bent
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Decreased strength

Concerned about symptoms of patellar tendonitis? Book an assessment with a physiotherapist today.

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How is Patellar Tendonitis Treated?

Treatments for patellar tendonitis can include:

  • At-home treatment including:
    • applying ice packs for 10-15 minutes, 3-4 times a day, typically for the first 48 hours or until swelling goes down
    • resting your knee and using crutches
    • anti-inflammatory painkillers such as Advil or Aleve to reduce pain and swelling
    • avoiding activities that cause pain or put stress on your knee
    • incorporating low-impact activities once you are healed, such as biking or swimming
  • Physiotherapy
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), either prescribed, or over-the-counter, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, though these have been reported to hinder soft tissue healing and can have a negative effect on tendon repair
  • Corticosteroid injections, though this is not common for the patellar tendon because of the risk of tendon rupture and increased tendon weakness
  • Surgery

Physiotherapy for Patellar Tendonitis

Physiotherapy is a drug-free and non-surgical treatment that focuses on reducing pain and swelling, regaining strength, increasing joint mobility and function, and preventing recurrence. 

At pt Health, you’ll receive a thorough assessment which addresses the source of your problem.

Depending on your individual needs, physiotherapy for patellar tendonitis can include:

Are you seeking physiotherapy for patellar tendonitis treatment? Book an assessment today.

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Can Patellar Tendonitis Go Away on Its Own?

Yes, if successfully treated at home, patellar tendonitis can get better on its own. However, if it’s not treated correctly, tendonitis can turn into tendonosis. 

Tendonosis (also spelled tendinosis) is a chronic, recurring condition that happens as a result of overuse, repetitive strain, repeated injuries to the same area, or an injury that hasn’t healed properly. 

Without proper treatment or activity modification, tendonosis can degenerate the tendon.

Can You Prevent Patellar Tendonitis?

If you have an increased risk of patellar tendonitis (for example, you play sports, or your job involves repetitive kneeling, bending, or lifting movements), you may want to consult a physiotherapist for a custom treatment plan to address your unique concerns. 

However, there are steps you can take to prevent or reduce the chance of developing patellar tendonitis, including:

  • Exercising regularly, including stretching exercises such as yoga or tai chi (at least 30 minutes every day)
  • Easing into new exercise routines
  • Warming up before exercise
  • Stretching after exercise
  • Taking regular breaks from repetitive movements
  • Practicing good posture
  • Practicing proper technique in sport
  • Wearing orthotics and proper shoes
  • Eating an anti-inflammatory diet (avoiding processed and refined foods and sugar)
  • Maintaining a healthy weight (which reduces pressure on the knee)

Book a Physiotherapist Consult for Patellar Tendonitis Today

Concerned about symptoms of patellar tendonitis? Book an assessment with a physiotherapist today.

Find a clinic button that links to pt Health's find a clinic page