Patellar Tendonitis Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

Patellar Tendonitis

Concern About The Painful Patellar Tendonitis

Patellar tendonitis is a condition that is described by an injury affecting the tendons that connects the patella or kneecap to the tibia or shinbone. The patellar tendon functions primarily to assist the lower leg muscles, allowing movement. This tendon is generally in use while a person is jumping, pedaling the bicycle, and when kicking a ball.

This commonly occurs when the patellar tendon is overused during workouts, causing stress on the tendon. The body may attempt to repair the small tears, but if it can't keep up, the inflammation in the tendon may worsen. Soon, the pain will grow until it becomes constant. Patellar tendonitis commonly occurs in athletes who are required to jump frequently in sports like volleyball, soccer, and basketball. Due to the nature of stress involved in this injury, it is often called as the jumper's knee.

Causes of Patellar Tendonitis

As of today, doctors are still unable to pinpoint the exact cause of patellar tendonitis. However, it is believed that there are certain factors that can be the cause. Among these are muscular imbalance -- where the stronger muscles pull harder on the patellar region, causing the tendonitis, raised kneecaps, leg misalignments, tightness in the leg muscles, and continued stress on the patellar tendon.

Usual Symptoms of Patellar Tendonitis

The first symptom of the patellar tendonitis is pain in the patellar region or between the kneecap and the shinbone's tendon. During jumping or running, the pain can be noticeable and sharp, and it will continue to throb fully even while at rest. As the condition worsens, the patient may discover that the pain becomes worse as the intensity of the activity goes higher. This is then followed by a persistent ache that will be felt even before any strenuous activity until such time that going up and down the stairs is a problem. The pain becomes more and more noticeable until the patient will be having a difficult time sleeping at night.

Diagnosing Patellar Tendonitis

In order to determine and diagnose patellar tendonitis, a doctor may first observe the symptoms and ask several questions from the injured patient. However, if the diagnosis is not that clear, the doctor may then start a test or a series of tests. The most basic of which is the physical examination, where the doctor may use pressure in the different areas of the knee to find out exactly where the pain is and if it is patellar tendonitis. Another test requires the patient to reproduce the pain by doing the squat test, or deep knee bends to see the degree of pain experienced by the patient. Should the previously mentioned tests do not work, the doctor will schedule an ultrasound for the patients, so as to reveal the location of tendon tears in the knee through sound waves. Aside from that, a doctor may also use the Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI to see -- in greater detail -- subtle changes or damages in the patellar tendon.

A certain test alone may not be sufficient to determine if a person has patellar tendonitis, and the degree of severity of this injury. Thus, a doctor may employ two or even all of them to make certain of the exact nature of the injury.

Patellar Tendonitis Treatment

There are different kinds of treatment for patellar tendonitis, and these are either the conservative approach and the surgery. The conservative treatment is non-evasive and is often employed when the damage is minimal. However, there are some patients who have severe cases of patellar tendonitis that they will be required to undergo surgery.

Conservative treatment approach is aimed to lessen the strain and to gradually improve tendons. The doctor may require the injured person to take it easy for a while and rest, while giving him or her activities that will limit the use of the affected area. For athletes, the conservative treatment will also help them adjust the mechanics of their bodies by distributing the force they exert during workouts and physical activities. This method also includes exercises that will stretch and strengthen the previously inflexible and strained muscles and tendons. A massage is also included in the treatment, where stimulating the thigh and the calf muscles can greatly help and encourage the damaged tendons to heal.

Despite whatever form or process chosen, treatment and recovery will take some time, especially for those who will undergo surgery. The doctor will often suggest conservative treatment for pain relief and tendon improvement. To manage and alleviate the pain, the patient will be given medications to assist in the physical therapy treatments.

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