Commonly known as jumper’s knee, patellar tendinitis is a type of sports injury that causes discomfort and swelling in the knee. Of course, athletes can suffer from a variety of knee injuries. How can you tell if patellar tendinitis is to blame? Let’s take a closer look.
The knee is one of the most complex joints in the body. Four bones fit together to form two different sets of joints in each knee. The tibiofemoral joint, for example, connects the thigh bone (aka, the femur) to the shin bones (aka, the tibia and fibula). The patellofemoral joint, on the other hand, links the kneecap (patella) to the thigh bone.
In addition, four groups of muscles work together to coordinate leg movement. They include the quadriceps (front of the thigh), hamstrings (back of the thigh), glutes (buttocks), and calves (back of the lower legs). Ligaments, tendons, and other soft tissues also provide stability and absorb the pressure created by these movements.
Furthermore, this complex system plays a crucial role in powering your everyday movements. For instance, the knee joint helps to:
Tendinitis refers to the inflammation of a tendon—strong cords of fibrous tissue that attach muscles to bones. In many cases, this strain results from overuse of the area.
In particular, one of the knee’s main tendons is the patellar tendon. It links the kneecap to the shinbone with the help of the quadriceps muscles. These structures work together to straighten out the knee.
Overuse, especially during physical activities, can lead to inflammation. As the tissue becomes more and more inflamed, it can cause a tear to appear in the patellar tendon.
Sometimes referred to as patellar tendinopathy, this condition typically affects athletes. Of course, given the fact that we all rely on our knees to ambulate, anyone can be affected. This is especially true for those who:
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How do you know if you have jumper’s knee? After all, knee pain can result from a variety of factors.
However, telltale signs of jumper’s knee include:
In many cases, the resulting knee pain may only appear every once in a while. As the tendon suffers more damage, however, the pain may become more and more extreme. Eventually, the discomfort can interrupt your daily activities. Have you ever heard the old sports cliche, “play through the pain”? Doing so can actually cause more harm than good when it comes to the knee.
Knee conditions often share similar features. If you experience any kind of prolonged knee pain or swelling, it is best to have it checked out by a doctor. This can rule out more serious problems, like an ACL tear, and allow you to select the most appropriate treatment.
If you experience any of the above symptoms, then schedule an appointment with your doctor or a sports medicine physician. A quick consultation can have you on the path to recovery and at the top of your game once again.
Diagnosing your condition is fairly straightforward. The doctor will review your medical history and ask you questions about your symptoms, daily activities, and overall physical health. A physical exam may include applying pressure to tender areas of the knee to determine the exact origin of your pain.
Imaging tests, such as x-rays or ultrasounds, can confirm your diagnosis. These diagnostic tests allow the doctor to obtain a better look at the knee and determine if the patellar tendon is torn.
Putting off treatment can eventually keep you from doing the things your love. Let our team at NJ Spine & Orthopedic accurately diagnose your knee condition and provide the most appropriate treatments for your jumper’s knee.
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the area. Luckily, most people experience successful results on these treatments. In fact, only about 10% of those suffering from patellar tendinitis will need surgery. That’s a very encouraging number—especially if you are ready to make a return to your favorite sporting activities.
Sticking with your treatment regimen is key to treating patellar tendinopathy. Conservative approaches include:
For those who don’t respond well to conservative treatments, surgery may be your next best option. Consulting with an orthopedic surgeon or sports medicine physician can allow you to decide if surgery is right for you.
The most common patellar tendon surgery is a knee arthroscopy. In many cases, this can be performed as a minimally invasive procedure. This procedure uses a tiny camera and surgical instruments inserted into the incision. As a result, the orthopedic surgeon obtains a clear view of the area to remove damaged tissue—a process known as debridement. The tendon may also be stabilized using suture anchors. These devices attach damaged tendons securely back to the bone.
After surgery, those who suffer from chronic patellar tendinopathy may resume normal activities in as little as eight weeks.
If your jumper’s knee is keeping you from doing the things you love, then it’s best to consult with an orthopedic doctor. Our team at NJ Spine & Orthopedic is ready to discuss the best options for your knee pain. If you need surgery, we use the most advanced technology and procedures to reduce incision sizes, tissue damage, and recovery times.
Want to get back into the game? Schedule a consultation with NJ Spine & Orthopedic today.
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