A very common injury that we see at Performance Rehabilitation & Regenerative Medicine is “jumper’s knee” or patellar tendonitis, an injury to the tendon connecting the kneecap (patella) to the shinbone. This injury usually can be challenging for treating physicians and often has patients feeling frustrated. This injury usually responds well to conservative treatments such as physical therapy.
What is the Patellar Tendon?
The patellar tendon is a very thick tendon that is located below the knee cap that travels to the shin bone and works with the muscles at the front of your thigh to extend you knee allowing you to kick, run and jump. The tendon allows the quadriceps muscle group to extend the leg. This tendon will allow us to propel forward when jumping upwards and aids in stabilizing our knee joint during movement. During these movements, high amounts of force are generated and transferred through this tendon, which leads to increased stress placed on the tendon. Over time the patellar tendon is susceptible to overuse and injury. Typically, tearing and inflammation will form scar tissue. Scar tissue, if not addressed, can cause adhesions throughout the tendon. Poor biomechanics, prolonged activities like running or multi-directional movement sports may cause damage to the patellar tendon. Patellar tendinitis is most common in athletes whose sports involve frequent jumping — such as basketball and volleyball. However, even people who don’t participate in jumping sports can get patellar tendinitis. Patellar tendonitis is best diagnosed through a thorough history and physical examination. Diagnostic ultrasound may also be performed to further aid in evaluating the underlying etiology of this condition.
What is physical therapy and how can it help with knee pain?
Physical therapy is a form of healthcare that is designated to address problems with the musculoskeletal system that often make it difficult for us to move without pain. Physical therapists will help strengthen and rehabilitate injured structures getting you better, faster! After a thorough physical therapy examination your therapist will talk to you about the problems you are having and how he or she can work with you on pain management, to strengthen and rehabilitate your injury.
Most cases of patellar tendonitis can be managed with rest and anti-inflammatory medications. When pain fails to clear up on its own, physical therapy may be an option for you. One of the common muscles that can contribute to Patellar tendonitis is the Vastus medialis obliquos (VMO). This muscle usually displays significant weakness and benefits from strengthening exercises. The use of a knee brace is often used which helps reduce the strain placed on the tendon. This works to change the angle of the tendon against the kneecap to limit the forces placed on the tendon. Your physical therapist will work with you to make sure you are not suffering from any other issues that may contribute to your knee pain. Typically cases of patellar tendonitis respond very well to physical therapy and results will usually be seen in 4-6 weeks, depending on the severity of your injury.
If you find yourself struggling with this type of injury, or know someone that may be suffering please feel free to contact one of our patient care coordinators at 908-754-1960 or you may contact us online.
About the Authors:
Joseph Mejia D.O., F.A.A.P.M.& R, is a graduate of University of Michigan and West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine. He is Board Certified in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine. Dr. Mejia received his Fellowship Training in Interventional Pain Management from University of Medicine and Dentistry. He has advanced training in Regenerative Medicine and is the Medical Director and Partner of Performance Rehabilitation & Regenerative Medicine.
Vincent J. Diana D.C. is a graduate of New York Chiropractic College. He is a Board Certified Chiropractic Physician with licenses held in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Dr. Diana is a Chiropractic Physician at Performance Rehabilitation & Regenerative Medicine.