Jumper’s knee, or patellar tendonitis, is a painful condition marked by inflammation of the patellar tendon which connects the kneecap to the shinbone. Jumpers knee most often is attributed to the overuse type sports injuries that result in pain and tenderness around the patellar tendon from flexing and jumping, as well as landing over and over on hard surfaces and the repeated stress strains the tendon. There are a number of conditions that mimic jumper’s knee, and you don’t have to be a Piston to have it. So if your knee hurts and you don’t play pro ball, how do you know if you have jumper’s knee? Here is what you need to know.
Running and jumping are the usual causative reason for jumper’s knee. Sudden increases in how hard or long a person exercises may add stress to the tendon, making it feel worse. Not properly stretching and having tight or “cold” muscles – especially the muscles in the thigh – can cause the patellar tendon to be stretched too far. If a person has a muscular imbalance with certain muscles being noticeably stronger than others, this may result in the patellar tendon being overworked, resulting in jumper’s knee. Sometimes chronic illnesses like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and certain metabolic diseases can cause an interruption in the blood flow to the knee which also can weaken the tendon. Any overtraining on hard surfaces has also been identified as a cause of jumper’s knee.
Symptoms of Jumper’s Knee
The symptoms of jumper’s knee are pain and tenderness of the patellar tendon which connects the kneecap and the shin bone and pain when jumping, running, or walking, or when a person tries to straighten the knee. Tenderness in the lower part of the knee where it joins the shin bone is the most common side effect. Initially, the pain may occur only after a hard workout but over time the pain can worsen until it begins to interfere with regular activities. Increased risk factors include people who are knock-kneed, bow-legged, people who have an abnormally tall or short patella are at greater risk of contracting the condition. The effects linked to this condition are described as worse when landing than when jumping.
Knowing for Sure
Unlike traditionally seen tendonitis, patellar tendonitis does not usually present with much inflammation. As such, jumper’s knee is often mistaken for tendinosis, which is a tendon injury but without inflammation. There are four stages of classification for jumper’s knee.
- Stage I = pain after activity, but no decrease in ability during activity
- Stage II = pain during and after activity without any performance impairment
- Stage III = pain during and following activity and difficulty trying to play at ability level
- Stage IV = Complete tear of the tendon requires surgery to repair, inability to play
If left untreated, jumper’s knee can ultimately lead to tears in the tendon that could require surgery. Otherwise, the first line of treatment of patellar tendonitis is a combination of NSAIDs, RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation), and the implementation of stretching and muscle strengthening exercises to bring about relief. Most importantly is the temporary curtailing of any activity that led to the condition, meaning that Tuesday night pick-up basketball game may be off-limits for a while. If these first-line defenses don’t provide relief, your doctor might advise steroid injections, but only sparingly as they can add to the risk of weakening the tendon.
Advances in Treatment
Of late, orthopedists are recommending regenerative treatment for strains and sprains. Particularly, advances in stem cell and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapies may add a facet of treatment that is showing positive results in repairing injuries without the need for surgery.
Jumper’s Knee or Any Other Orthopedic Injury
If you or someone you know has jumper’s knee or any other orthopedic condition, then you know how painful and annoying these injuries can be. Located in Clinton Township, Movement Orthopedics offers the full range of orthopedic care – from long-term pain relief to surgical options and regenerative medicine. Plus, their urgent care option is available if you do wipe out during that jump shot! You may request an appointment online or call them today at (586) 436-3785 and start your healing immediately.