Patellar Tendinitis

What is Patellar Tendinitis?

Patellar Tendinitis (jumper’s knee) is characterized by the degeneration and swelling of the patella tendon. The tendon connects the tibia to the kneecap and works in conjunction with the thigh muscle. It most often strikes gymnasts, basketball players, volleyball players and those who must jump.

However, it can affect anyone, even those who do not regularly participate in sporting activities. When left untreated for an extended period of time, it can become more difficult to correct and the condition may become chronic.

What are the Symptoms of Patellar Tendinitis?

The chief symptom of patellar tendinitis is pain at the base of the kneecap. In the earliest stages of the condition it may only hurt while physically active or shortly thereafter. When patellar tendinitis progresses, the pain can be bad enough to hinder physical activities. When the condition becomes severe the pain interferes with daily life. Climbing stairs or simply standing up from a seated position can become excruciating. Other symptoms of patellar tendinitis may include:

  • Swelling near or in the patellar tendon
  • Tenderness when the base of the kneecap is pressed
  • Redness (an indication of tendon thickening)
  • Stiffness after physical activity
  • Weakness in the calf muscles and in a muscle on the inner thigh

How is Patellar Tendinitis Treated?

The treatment of patellar tendinitis generally begins with physical therapy. It includes stretching and strengthening exercises. Treatment may also include:

  • Rest from potentially aggravating physical activities
  • A patellar tendon strap
  • Heat retainer sleeve
  • Pain medication
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Icing the area 3 times a day for up to 15 minutes an hour
  • Topical corticosteroids with a low-dose electrical charge (iontophoresis therapy)
  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Plasma injections
  • Tendon repair surgery
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Last Reviewed:
October 07, 2016
Last Updated:
August 23, 2017