Patellar tendonitis – also known as “jumper’s knee” – is a common athletic injury that occurs in the tendon that connects the patella (kneecap) to the shinbone. This muscle helps the leg kick, jump, and run. Basketball and volleyball players are some of the most common types of athletes to develop this condition. However, inflammation of the patellar tendon can affect anyone. When the pain and inflammation is chronic, the condition is known as patellar tendonosis.
Questions About Your Knee Pain
If you have chronic and/or severe knee pain, take a moment to review the following questions:
- Has your knee pain affected the quality of your life? Does it keep you from participating in the activities or sports you enjoy?
- Have you already seen at least one doctor for your knee pain?
- Did your doctor provide you with steroid injections? If so, were you frustrated by the temporary relief these injections offered?
- Have you ever had one of these knee injections: Orthovisc, Euflexxa, Hyalgan, Nuflexxa, or Synvisc?
- Are you ready to get back to running and playing sports?
- Are you interested in alternatives to knee replacement and resurfacing procedures?
If you have answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you may wish to schedule an appointment with a sports medicine physician at Hedley Orthopaedic Institute. Learn more about how sports medicine doctors at Hedley may be able to diagnose and treat knee pain (including patellar tendonitis) without the use of surgery.
Difference Between Patellar Tendonitis & Knee Osteoarthritis
Patellar tendonitis and knee osteoarthritis (OA) are two common causes of knee pain. However, these two painful conditions of the knee have some fundamental differences.
Knee osteoarthritis is characterized by a degeneration of the cartilage in the knee. This condition may be caused by repetitive strain, injury, improper joint alignment, lack of physical activity, or sports-related stress. Risk for knee osteoarthritis generally increases with age. Also, the symptoms of knee osteoarthritis can be quite different from patellar tendonitis. Common OA symptoms include grating, crunching, or popping noises in the joint, as well as pain and stiffness in the morning (not induced by physical activity). Does this sound like your condition? Learn more about knee osteoarthritis.
Patellar tendonitis, in contrast, is characterized by degeneration of the patellar tendon (not the cartilage in the knee). Patellar tendonitis causes pain in the knee that may begin during or after physical activity, eventually progressing until it causes difficulty with basic, non-athletic activity (e.g. climbing stairs, getting out of chairs).
Diagnosing Patellar Tendonitis
Corticosteroid injections are common treatment options for patients whose patellar tendonitis hasn’t been resolved through medication or physical therapy. Unfortunately, these injections usually only provide temporary relief. While corticosteroid injections can reduce pain and inflammation, they do not in any way help the patellar tendon regenerate.
If you have been frustrated with past attempts at treating your patellar tendonitis, then you may find your experience at Hedley Orthopaedic Institute a breath of fresh air. At Hedley, your sports medicine physician will begin the treatment process with a thorough diagnostic examination. The diagnostic process may include physical tests, during which the physician examines your range of motion, sensitivity, and inflammation, as well as advanced imaging tests of the surrounding muscles, tendons, and ligaments (if necessary).
Treating Patellar Tendonitis
Once your sports medicine physician has evaluated and diagnosed your knee pain, treatment can begin. Patients with patellar tendonitis/tendonosis may have the option of choosing one of these cutting-edge, non-surgical therapies for knee pain:
- Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Injections: Growth factors from the patient’s own blood platelets are used to restore degenerated tissues.
- Amniotic Membrane Stem Cell Injections: Growth factors, hyaluronic acid, and anti-inflammatory agents taken from donor cells in the amniotic sac are used to stimulate growth and healing.
These treatment options are at the very forefront of sports medicine today. The perfect combination of advanced medicine and natural health, both stem cell and PRP injections are desirable treatment options for athletes who want more than pain management. These therapies go one step beyond reducing inflammation by actually stimulating new, healthy tissue growth in the knee.
In addition to these non-surgical therapies, the orthopaedic surgeons at Hedley Orthopaedic Institute offer advanced knee surgeries, such as the minimally invasive MAKOplasty® Partial Knee Resurfacing procedure.
Patellar Tendonitis Self-Care
If you’ve been diagnosed with patellar tendonitis, you can take care of yourself at home with these stretches and strengthening exercises. If you have any questions about self-care, ask your physician.
- Stretching the quadriceps is great for patellar tendonitis. After warming up, bend your knee back, bringing your ankle up towards your back. Hold for 30 seconds; repeat three times.
- Eccentric squats on a decline are also helpful for patellar tendonitis. Stand on a wedge or reverse incline with your affected leg. (If you don’t have a decline, prop up a plywood sheet with a few 2x4s to create a declining hypotenuse.) Slowly squat, lowering your body on the affected leg. Stand up with both legs. Work up to 30 repetitions. Perform three times per day.
Be sure to review any stretches and exercises with your doctor beforehand.
Schedule Your Sports Med Appointment in Phoenix, Mesa or Tempe
Don’t let patellar tendonitis (or any knee pain) keep you from doing the activities you love. Schedule an appointment with a sports medicine physician in Phoenix, Mesa, or Tempe through Hedley Orthopaedic Institute. Your sports medicine physician can go over the surgical and non-surgical treatment options available to you. Contact a location near you to schedule your appointment.