Jumpers knee or patellar tendonitis is pain in the tendon which attaches the kneecap or patella to the top of the shin bone or tibia. It is usually an overuse injury caused by repetitive strain.
Patellar tendonitis can be a tricky condition to treat and requires a substantial period of rest and a thorough treatment and rehabilitation program. In the most severe or persistent cases, surgery may be required.
Jumpers knee symptoms
Symptoms of jumpers knee consist of pain at the bottom front of the kneecap over what is called the lower pole of the patella.
The bottom of the patella will be very tender when pressing in. The athlete is likely to experience aching and stiffness after exercise and pain when contracting the quadriceps muscles in acute cases.
The affected tendon may appear larger than the unaffected side. In particular jumping activities are likely to be most painful. Jumpers knee can be categorised into four grades of injury:
- Grade 1: Pain only after training
- Grade 2: Pain before and after training but pain eases once warmed-up
- Grade 3: Pain during training which limits your performance
- Grade 4: Pain during every day activities
Warning!! – This injury may seem like a niggling injury that is not that bad. Many athletes continue to train and compete on it as it may not be a debilitating injury and recovers after a short period of rest. However, neglect jumpers knee at your peril! If left to become chronic it can be very difficult to treat and may require surgery.
Jumpers knee treatment
What can the athlete do?
Jumpers knee treatment the athlete can do themselves depends on the extent or grade of the injury. A more severe injury may require longer rest and may result in surgery. Rest from training In mild to moderate cases, adaptation of training to reduce impact and jumping activities may be suitable.
Apply cold therapy on a regular basis, especially during the acute stage which is usually the first 24 to 48 hours and after any form of exercise. If the tendon is painful then ice can be applied for 10 minutes every hour reducing frequency as symptoms improve.
Wearing a knee support, or jumpers knee strap can reduce pain and ease the strain on the tendon. A jumpers knee strap wraps around the tendon just below the knee changing the angle of the tendon against the patella which changes the part of the tendon the forces are transmitted.
Stretch the the quadriceps muscles regularly and see a sports injury professional who can advice on treatment and an eccentric exercise rehabilitation program.