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Patellar Tendonitis

February 26, 2010


What is patellar tendonitis?
How does it occur?
What are the symptoms?
How is it diagnosed?
How is it treated?
When can I return to my sport or activity?
How can I prevent patellar tendonitis?

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What is patellar tendonitis?
Patellar tendonitis, also call jumpers knee, is pain in the bad of tissue ( the patellar tendon) that connects the kneecap (patella) to the shin bone (tibia).

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How does it occur?
The most common activity causing patellar tendonitis is too much jumping. Other repeated activities such as running, walking, or bicycling may lead to patellar tendonitis. All of these activities put repeated stress on the patellar tendon, causing it to be inflamed. Patellar tendonitis can also happen to people who have problems with the way their hips, legs, knees, or feet are aligned. This alignment problem can result from having wide hips, being knock-kneed, or having feet with arches that collapse when you walk or run, a condition called over-pronation.

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What are the symptoms?
Symptoms may include:
– Pain and tenderness around the patellar tendon
– Swelling in your knee joint or swelling where the patellar tendon attaches the shin bone
– Pain with jumping, running, or walking, especially downhill or downstairs
– Pain with bending or straightening the leg
– Tenderness behind the kneecap

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How is it diagnosed?
Your doctor will examine your knee to see if have tenderness at the patellar tendon. He or she will also have run, jump, or squat to see if this causes pain. Your feet will be examined to see if you have problem with over pronation. Your doctor may take x-ray of your knee.

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How is it treated?
In the early stages you should apply ice packs for 20 to 30 minutes every 3 to 4 hours for 2 to 3 days or until the pain goes away. Your doctor may prescribe an anti- inflammatory medication. He or she may also prescribe a band to wear across the patellar tendon, call infra- patellar strap, or prescribe a special knee brace. The strap or brace will support your patellar tendon, preventing it from becoming overused or painful. If you have a problem with over- pronation, your doctor may prescribe custom- made arch supports called orthotics. You will be given rehabilitation exercises to help you return to your sport or activity. While you are recovering from your injury you will need to change your sport or activity to one that does not make your condition worse. For example, you may need to swim instead of play basketball.

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When can I return to my sport or activity?
The goal of rehabilitation is to return you to your sport or activity as soon as is safely possible. If you return too soon you may worsen your injury, which could lead to permanent damage. Everyone recovers from injury at a different rate. Return to your sport or activity will be determined by how soon your knee recovers, not by how many days or weeks it has been since your injury occurred. In general, the longer you have symptoms before you start treatment, the longer it will take to get better. You may safely return to your sport or activity when, starting from the top of the list and progressing to the end, each of the following is true.
– Your injured knee can be fully straightened and bent without pain
– Your knee and leg have regained normal strength compared to the uninjured knee and leg
– You knee is not swollen
– You are able to jog straight ahead without limping
– You are able to sprint straight ahead without limping
– You are able to do 45- degree cuts
– You are able to do 90- degree cuts
– You are able to do 20- yard figure-of-eight runs
– You are able to do 10- yard figure-of-eight runs
– You are able to jump on both legs without pain and jump on the injured leg without pain

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How can I prevent patellar tendonitis?
Patellar tendonitis is usually caused by overuse during activities such as jumping or running. It can best be prevented by having strong thigh muscles.

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