How can I treat my Jumper’s knee?
Patellar tendinopathy (aka patellar tendonitis/tendinosis or “Jumper’s knee”) is a common knee injury, typically due to overuse. It is often seen in individuals who participate in activities that involve jumping such as volleyball or basketball, however is not exclusive to those activities. In runners, it can occur with a sudden increase in training intensity or with the addition of hill work.
The patellar tendon attaches the patella (kneecap) to the tibia (shin bone). It is in this region below the patella that pain is usually experienced. Other symptoms may include swelling and pain associated with jumping, squatting or stair use. As repeated stress is placed on the tendon, as with jumping, impact, or activities involving quick changes in direction, the tendon becomes inflamed. Inflammation is present during the acute stage of the injury in the first few months. Continued episodes of strain to the tendon can lead to a chronic irritation that is associated with degeneration of the tendon and a lack of inflammation, resulting in a condition known as tendinosis.
Initially it is a good idea to try icing and rest from physical activity. You should not attempt to push through the pain in the beginning because you can further aggravate the tendon. If symptoms persist, you should contact your physician who can officially diagnose the problem and guide you in the appropriate plan of care. This condition typically responds well to conservative treatment such as a routine that involves rest, icing, and anti-inflammatories in the beginning stages. If the condition has been going on longer than a few months, the treatment may involve more aggressive manual and/or injection therapies. Physical therapy can help rehabilitate the injury in the acute and chronic stages. If appropriate, a physical therapy program can be designed to address muscular imbalances and focus on:
- flexibility exercises, particularly to the quadriceps and hamstrings
- strengthening exercises with a focus on eccentric quadriceps strengthening
- stability and balance exercises
- soft tissue massage to the affected tissues
- ice massage (in the beginning stage)
- taping techniques
If you feel that you are experiencing the symptoms discussed in this article, contact your physician or healthcare provider.
This article was written by Kristine Bayers, PT, from NovaCare – Union Station.