Patellar tendonitis: how is it treated?

Patellar tendonitis:
Front view of knee joint showing patellar ligament.

The patellar tendon inserts on the underside of the patella and on the tibia. We are talking about one of the largest and most powerful tendons in the body, since it has to push us to overcome gravity while we are running, jumping or simply walking.

Patellar tendinitis, also known as “jumper’s knee ” is a very common injury in athletes and in those people who practice sports that include jumping and/or aggressive changes of turn and direction. Although it can also affect anyone who in their usual activity has an overload in the knee joints.

The patellar tendon plays a key role when it comes to extending the knee and performing everyday actions such as going up and down stairs, walking, jumping, bending over or sitting down.

Symptoms of knee tendonitis

The main symptom of patellar tendonitis is pain, usually located between the kneecap and the point of attachment of the tendon to the tibia or shin bone.

It usually appears at the beginning of physical activity or after performing intense exercises.

After a while, the situation worsens, the pain worsens to the point of making daily movements difficult. Knee stiffness, pain when bending, or weakness in the leg may appear.

Causes of patellar tendonitis

As it is an injury due to excessive and repetitive use of the patellar tendon, a series of small tears occur in the tendon . As these tears multiply, they cause more pain from inflammation and weakening of the tendon. When this situation lasts over time, patellar tendinopathy or tendinitis occurs .

Another of the causes to be highlighted are congenital factors and metabolic diseases such as diabetes, deviation of the patella, muscular imbalances of the legs or stiffness of the leg muscles .

It is also very common, in the appearance of this pathology, the lack of stretching and warming up prior to practicing sports or poor postures and techniques . In short, inadequate training planning and preparation.

Patellar tendinitis chronification

Chronic tendinitis occurs when it recurs over time without adequate recovery . In some cases, even taking a treatment of rest, physiotherapy and medication, it is not effective and, both the pain and the inflammation, lengthen over time, becoming persistent.

The most common chronic tendinitis symptoms are:

Greater sensitivity in the area
mild swelling
Sometimes redness or heat radiation in the area
Progressive pain that becomes sharp and intense when trying to move the leg or joint
Treatment for patellar tendonitis

The treatment must be personalized and adapted to each patient depending on the ailment, the cause and the time they have had this pathology. Recovery from this injury is slow and can take several months.

The main thing is rest or decreased physical activity .

Pharmacological treatment to calm pain and reduce inflammation with analgesics and anti-inflammatories.
Local cold application that will help reduce inflammation in the area.
Physiotherapy for which, through exercises directed by a professional, will help strengthen the knee muscles.
Surgery when after a reasonable time (3 months), the pain persists . It consists of making small lateral cuts in the patellar tendon to relieve pressure in the area, and extraction of inflamed tissue or the damaged part of the tendon.
Infiltration of growth factors derived from platelets or stem cells whose objective is the regeneration of the damaged patellar tendon.

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