Recovering from Patellar Tendonitis of the Knee

Patellar tendinitis is an injury to the tendon connecting your kneecap (patella) to your shinbone. The patellar tendon works with the muscles at the front of your thigh to extend your knee so that you can squat, walk, and go up and down steps.

Patellar tendinitis, also known as jumper’s knee, is common in athletes whose sports involve frequent jumping — such as basketball and volleyball.  However, even people who don’t participate in jumping sports can get patellar tendinitis.

Patellar tendonitis usually develops over time. It can be due to faulty squatting or running mechanics or repetitive activity.  It is a common condition that affects athletes and non-athletes a like.  In our office, we see patellar tendonitis in our Crossfit and functional fitness athletes.

Some factors that can contribute to this type of tendon pain include incorrect training techniques, a lack of core/lower body stability or mobility, and sudden increases in training volume.  Other factors that can contribute to this type of tendonitis include valgus positioning of the knee (ie, a “knock-knee” position where the knees angle inward) during squats and lunges, stiff thigh muscles, flat feet, or excessively high arches.

Some movements that can be painful in the presence of  patellar tendonitis include running walking, steps, squats, and lunges. In addition, there may be increased symptoms first thing in the morning or after a prolonged bout of sitting (i.e. when muscles are stiff and inactive).

In our physical therapy office, the first recommendation that we usually make is to take a short break from the aggravating activity. This allows for an environment for the inflammation to settle down and the region to heal. While taking a break usually helps with pain, we know for our patients to get back to the activities that they enjoy, we have to address the root of the issue.

In many cases, patellar tendonitis is coupled with poor mobility of the hips and the ankle. This can be combined with weakness of the hip, thigh, and the buttock muscles.  In addition, if there are imbalances at the core and hip muscles, the way an active person moves can be affected which may lead to faulty knee mechanics. However, the only way to know what is contributing to pain and injury is to perform a complete assessment.

When pain and stiffness is found via the assessment, our approach includes manual mobilization to alleviate pain and improve mobility. Pain improvements can be made very quickly with soft tissue mobilization and/or dry needling of the quadriceps muscle.

If weakness is found, we teach activation exercises to help our clients better engage muscles that are not firing well. Once pain is controlled and muscles engage better, our next step is teaching our patients to develop core and lower body strength with resistance.

When addressed with a through physical therapy assessment and plan of care, patellar tendonitis is a condition that can resolve without medications or procedures. However, any sort of repetitive activity with poor mechanics can become a more serious issue.  If you feel like you may be developing tendonitis, the physical therapists at Movement Solutions would be glad to provide a through assessment and give you a diagnosis for your condition.  We can begin this process with a free 15-minute phone consultation to talk about how your knee is affecting you and discuss your treatment options.  If you prefer an office visit, we can offer a free Discovery Visit so we can assess your injury in person, provide you a diagnosis, and give you and discuss your rehabilitation potential.  Whether you decide to have continued care with us or another office, we want to you to get back to you active way of life. Call us at (864)-558-7346 and ask how we can help.

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