Commonly known as “jumper’s knee”, patellar tendinopathy is a condition characterized by inflammation and tissue damage to the patellar tendon causing pain in the anterior region of the knee.
The quadriceps, located on the front of your thigh attach via the knee cap and the patellar tendon onto the tibia (shin bone).
The quadriceps muscle is particularly active during running, jumping and kicking. When contracting the quadriceps muscle, tension is placed onto the patellar tendon. When too much tension is placed through the tendon, due to repetition or high forces, damage to the patellar tendon may occur leading to inflammation, micro-tearing. Subsequent degeneration may also occur.
What are the symptoms of Patellar tendinopathy?
Pain develops gradually at the front of the knee just below the knee cap. Patients may only experience an ache or stiffness in the knee that increases with rest following activities requiring strong/repetitive contraction of the quadriceps muscle such as running or jumping. As the condition progresses, symptoms may increase during activity and affect performance. Walking or standing may be enough to aggravate symptoms. The knee may begin to feel weak and the patella tendon may become tender to touch.
How can physiotherapy help?
Patients who seek early physiotherapy treatment can expect the condition to heal well and return to their normal function in a few weeks. Rest from aggravating activities is an important component. Physiotherapy treatment may involve soft tissue massage, bracing, taping, ice or heat treatment, biomechanical correction, and a gradual return to activity programme involving stretching and exercises to improve strength.