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The knee is a sensitive area of the body and one that can be injured doing almost any activity. The knee is normally exposed and vulnerable and a simple twist can lead to a serious injury as well as ongoing problems and a long recovery time.
The knee has a somewhat unstable design. Yet it must support the body's full weight when standing, and much more than that during walking or running. So it's not surprising that knee problems are a fairly common complaint among people of all ages.
Alignment or overuse problems of the knee structures can lead to strain, irritation, and/or injury. This produces pain, weakness, and swelling of the knee joint. Patellar tendonitis (also known as jumper's knee) is a common overuse condition associated with running, repeated jumping and landing, and kicking.
What parts of the knee are involved!?
The patella (kneecap) is the moveable bone on the front of the knee. This unique bone is wrapped inside a tendon that connects the large muscles on the front of the thigh, the quadriceps muscles, to the tibia (lower leg or shin bone)
What causes this problem?
Patellar tendonitis occurs most often as a result of stresses placed on the supporting structures of the knee. Running, jumping, and repetitive movements from knee flexion into extension (e.g., rising from a deep squat) contribute to this condition. Overuse injuries from sports activities is the most common cause but anyone can be affected, even those who do not participate in sports or recreational activities.
Any muscle imbalance of the lower extremity from the hip down to the toes can impact the quadriceps muscle and affect the joint. Individuals who are overweight may have added issues with load and muscle imbalance leading to patellar tendonitis.
What treatment options are available?
Patellar tendonitis is usually self-limiting. That means the condition will resolve with relative rest, activity modification, and Physical Therapy. Recurrence of the problem is common for patients who fail to let the patellar tendon recover fully before resuming training or other aggravating activities.
Although the time required for recovery varies, we typically recommend Physical Therapy for about four to six weeks. The therapist may use ice massage, electrical stimulation, and ultrasound to limit pain and control (but not completely prevent) swelling. Some amount of inflammatory response is needed initially for a good healing response. Stretching and strengthening exercises are necessary to correct any muscle imbalances.
Many surgeons will have their patients take part in formal Physical Therapy after knee surgery. Rehabilitation may be slower to allow the tendon to heal before too much strain can be put on the knee.
Muscle stimulation, using electrodes over the quadriceps muscle, may be needed at first to get the muscle moving again. The goal is to help you keep your pain under control, ensure you place only a safe amount of weight on the healing knee, and improve your strength and range of motion.
When you first visit Energize Physical Therapy, diagnosis begins with a complete history of your knee problem followed by an examination of the knee, including the patella. There is usually tenderness with palpation of the inflamed tissues at the insertion of the tendon into the bone. We will assess your knee for range of motion, strength, flexibility and joint stability.
If you have knee pain, give us a call to set up your appointment!