Patellar tendinitis can bring a person to their knees – and for about 200,000 people a year in the United States, it does. Connecting your kneecap (patella) to your shin bone (tibia), the patellar tendon works with the quadriceps of the thigh to give us the ability to straighten the knees and extend the leg. As the muscles of the quadriceps engage, the patellar tendon is stretched; this action is what straightens the knee and extends the leg.
Activities and sports that require harsh landing and jumping can lead to swelling, pain, and discomfort due to inflammation and microscopic tears. Like many other musculoskeletal disorders, patellar tendinitis can be either acute – due to overexertion or injury – or chronic (degenerative).
If you’ve experienced this type of pain, you’re in great company. The disorder doesn’t discriminate, and victimizes athletes across professional courts (Raphael Nadal) and baseball diamonds (Oliver Perez) alike. Tendonitis in the legs is particularly tricky to heal, as our legs are constantly in use.
Do You Have These Common Symptoms of Jumper’s Knee?
Common symptoms of jumper’s knee include pain and tenderness around the knee, pain while jumping, running, or walking, swelling, and tenderness behind the lower region of the kneecap. The act of bending or straightening the knee may also make you wince.
In many cases, pain becomes unbearable during activity, but fades away once you hit the showers and head home. Don’t be fooled by the temporary lapse in discomfort; patellar tendinitis strikes when active, but if left untreated can put you on the path toward chronic pain. Commonplace activities – such as bending down to pick something up, climbing a flight of stairs, and putting on pants, can become cumbersome for those suffering from chronic jumper’s knee.
Get Evaluated by a Pro
Try not to jump to conclusions about any condition; self-diagnosing is never a smart idea. It’s always best to seek out a professional opinion from a specialist – in this case, a sports medicine doctor. Detecting jumper’s knee involves a series of thorough diagnostics. Your medical history is very telling; be prepared to answer questions regarding previous knee injuries you may have sustained, prior knee replacement surgeries, and related medical conditions. Your doctor will also gauge how well you can bend and straighten your knee using a series of tests during a physical examination.
Imaging is highly beneficial for confirming a diagnosis and is relied on for confirming the presence of patellar tendinitis. Both X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be used. An MRI may be more effective because, while X-rays can reveal a dislocated kneecap resulting from a patellar tendon tear, an MRI offers an unobstructed view of soft tissue abnormalities typically present in patients with jumper’s knee. An MRI also can reveal the precise locations of the tears – which can be helpful when treating the injury with corticosteroid injections, and other treatments that require targeted placement.
You don’t have to succumb to knee pain. Led by board-certified surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Carroll, Movement Orthopedics is an advanced facility, offering myriad solutions for musculoskeletal injuries including jumper’s knee. The team utilizes many noninvasive options as a first-line approach to healing, as well as cutting-edge surgical procedures should they be necessary. For more information, or to schedule a consultation, call (586) 436-3785.