Patellar Tendinopathy

The patellar tendon connects the kneecap to the lower leg bone. Tendinopathy is an injury to the tendon. It can cause pain, swelling, and limited movement. The injury can include: Treatment depends on the severity of the injury.

  • Causes

    Tendinopathy is generally caused by overuse of a muscle-tendon unit. Over time, the strain on the tendon causes structural changes within the tendon.

    Patellar tendinopathy occurs from overuse of the patellar tendon. Overuse may be caused by any activity that requires:

    • Intense running
    • Jumping
    • Frequent stops and starts
    • Frequent impact to the knee
    • Falls
    • Tendon weakness from certain diseases

  • Definition

    The patellar tendon connects the kneecap to the lower leg bone. Tendinopathy is an injury to the tendon. It can cause pain, swelling, and limited movement. The injury can include:

    • Tendonitis—inflammation of the tendon
    • Tendinosis—tiny tears in the tendon tissue with no significant inflammation

    Treatment depends on the severity of the injury.

    Patellar Tendonitis
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  • Diagnosis

    The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

    Tests may include
    x-rays
    or an
    MRI.

  • Prevention

    To reduce your chances of getting patellar tendinopathy, take these steps:

    • Avoiding activities and sports that repeatedly stress the kneecaps, especially those that involve jumping
    • Regularly doing quadriceps muscle stretching and strengthening exercises
    • Gradually increasing the frequency and intensity of exercise
    • Learn proper sporting technique

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that increase your chance of developing patellar tendonopathy include:

    • Being a physically active teenager or young adult
    • An increase in the frequency of training
    • A sudden increase in the intensity of training
    • Changing from one sport to another
    • Training on a hard surface
    • Repeated improper movements while training
    • Muscle weakness or imbalance
    • Involvement in basketball, soccer, volleyball, or running

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms may include:

    • Pain and tenderness in the patellar tendon below the kneecap
    • Pain or tightness in the knee when bending, squatting, or straightening the leg
    • Discomfort in the knee when jumping, squating, or walking up stairs

  • Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment will depend on the severity of the injury. Options include: