Patellar tendonitis: causes, symptoms and treatment

Patellar tendinitis, also known as"jumper's knee", is an injury or inflammation of the tendon that joins the patella with the tibia. The patellar tendon plays a major role in the stability of the knee , working in conjunction with the muscles of the area so that it is possible to kick, run or jump.

The injury is caused by an overload, for example when doing repetitive movements, so it is more frequent among athletes whose disciplines involve jumping, falling and changing direction in a constant manner . However, even people who do not practice this type of activity can get it.

The patellar tendon

The patellar tendon is a wide and strong structure that is located below the knee (patella) connecting the quadriceps muscle with the tibia. It is a fabric similar to a rope that allows the knee to stretch or extend when the quadriceps contracts.

Together to the ligaments It is responsible for giving greater stability to the knee , mainly when making jumps, both in the landing and when braking an associated horizontal acceleration movement.

See also: Habits that cause knee pain

What are the causes of patellar tendonitis?

What are the causes of patellar tendonitis?

Patellar tendinitis occurs when the tendon is injured or inflamed, as a result of excessive use or overload. This tissue suffers small tears that, when multiplied, trigger an inflammatory response that manifests itself with pain and debilitation. When the organism fails to repair the injuries and the tendon damage persists for several weeks, what is known as tendinopathy appears.

Risk factor's

The continued practice of some sports It has been linked to the increased risk of suffering from patellar tendonitis. However, everything indicates that there are more likely to suffer from the combination of several factors.

Physical activity

Physical activity

All kinds of physical activity that involves running and jumping considerably increases the risk of patellar tendinitis. Although anyone can suffer from it, the risk increases when practicing sports such as:

  • Basketball
  • Volleyball
  • Football
  • Athletics
  • Running

The increase in the frequency and intensity of these activities also influence the pressure suffered by the tendon. Further, In certain cases, negative consequences occur due to the use of inappropriate shoes.

We recommend you read: How to have stronger tendons and ligaments

Muscle stiffness in the legs

The patellar tendon can be irritated or injured by muscle stiffness presented by the quadriceps and hamstrings , often extended to the back of the thighs.

Muscular imbalance

If there are weaker muscles in the legs than others, the stronger ones can pull with greater intensity of the patellar tendon, which also originates their injury.

Symptoms of patellar tendonitis

Symptoms of patellar tendonitis

The main symptom of patellar tendinitis is a pain that is located between the patella and the tibia (area of ​​greatest affectation due to the injury). This can be manifested only when starting the practice of some physical activity, or after completing a highly demanding training.

The pain can be more severe due to the lack of treatment, especially if the person continues training or competing. Over time, it hinders movement of the knees, for example when climbing stairs, jumping or getting on your knees. Other symptoms include:

  • Rigidity and muscle weakness
  • Lack of balance
  • Increase in temperature in the area
  • Inflammation

Diagnosis

As a first measure The doctor makes a physical examination to determine in which area the pain occurs. If this occurs on the front of the knee, just below the ball joint , it may be due to tendinitis. To confirm the diagnosis and assess the severity of the injury, tests may be suggested by complementary images.

  • X-rays To determine if there are other problems that cause pain.
  • Ultrasound . Create an image of the knee using sound waves to reveal the patellar tendon tears.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). It serves to create detailed images that can reveal subtle changes in the tendon.

Treatment

Before taking into account options such as surgery, the doctor will suggest other less invasive treatments.

  • Analgesics for pain: such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium.
  • Physiotherapy: stretching exercises, strengthening exercises, use of a patellar tendon strap, among others.
  • Injection of corticosteroids only if the conservative treatment does not work. It relieves pain, but it can also weaken the tendons.
  • Surgery: only in exceptional cases, if the treatment fails. The procedure can be done through small incisions around the knee.

For an optimal recovery process it is important to temporarily avoid sports or activities that can overload the knee . Working with this condition can worsen patellar tendon damage.

References:

  1. Juan José Eiroa Bermúdez, Matilde González García, Rubén Navarro Patón, Faculty of Education and Sports Sciences, University of Vigo (2011). «The patellar tendonitis, one of the most frequent injuries in cycling. Guidelines for its treatment and recovery » .
  2. Terminology and classification of tendinopathies . Hospital Morales Meseguer Traumatology Service. Chair of Sports Traumatology-UCAM. MURCIA
  3. Mayo Clinic (Internet). Available in: