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What is a patella tendinopathy?

Patella/ quads tendinopathy, or more commonly known as Jumper’s knee, is pain above or below the knee and is usually associated with individuals involved in high impact jumping sports such as volleyball and basketball. It involves changes to the tendons around the knee cap which help to transmit forces from the muscles to the bones and is normally caused by repetitive jumping or high impact activities.

When do I know if I have Patella Tendinopathy or Jumper’s Knee?

Signs and symptoms of a patella tendinopathy may include:

  • Pain felt just above or just below the knee cap
  • Pain when squatting, going up or down stairs
  • Pain worse when doing jumping or quicker movements such as kicking
  • Tenderness when palpating just above or below the knee cap
  • Unable to put pressure on the knee cap in activities such as kneeling
  • Pain and stiffness in the knee when getting up after sitting for a prolonged time

How is Patella Tendinopathy diagnosed and managed?

It is usually diagnosed through a history taking and physical examination carried out by a Doctor or Physiotherapist. Depending on the severity of the pain, the medical specialist might order some films or do a bedside ultrasound scan to help determine the extent of the condition. In most cases however, a scan is not needed and a Physiotherapist will be able to manage your condition safely and effectively. However, in some situations where pain is more severe, the specialist might recommend a steroid injection to help manage the pain.

How can Physiotherapy help?

The Physiotherapist will carry out an assessment of the knee, hip and ankle region. This would include an assessment of the range of movements in the lower limbs, examining your movement postures as well as your strength. The role of the Physiotherapist is to help with determining what movements are most suited to your current level and to allow you to participate in daily activities or sport as pain-free as possible.

Signs and symptoms of a patellofemoral pain may include:

  • Advise and education pertaining to your condition
  • Soft tissue therapy
  • Movement with mobilisation
  • Heat therapy
  • Electrotherapy
  • Dry needling
  • Shockwave therapy
  • Taping to offload the quads or patella tendons
  • Movement training
  • Returning to sport training
  • Personalised home exercise program

What type of exercises should I be doing if I have patella tendinopathy?

The general rule of patellar tendinopathy is to avoid high impact activities such as running, jumping or hopping. However, high impact activities can still be allowed if pain levels are generally low and there is no acute inflammatory process ongoing. The initial stages will usually involve strengthening through isometric activities, meaning having to hold a position under load without any movement. It will then progress into introducing movement with weights and eventually re-introducing higher impact movement.

Can I still participate in sport if I have patellar tendinopathy?

Yes, it is still possible to participate in sport as patellar tendons tend to have what is termed as a ‘warm-up effect’ meaning that it will generally feel less painful after movement. However, the physical load needs to be closely monitored as sudden spikes can cause the tendon to be more irritable and painful.

Eccentric or concentric exercises for tendons? That is the question.

Tendinopathy is a common condition seen in athletes, and the most investigated method of managing tendinopathy is through exercise. Different exercise regimes are reviewed to find the optimal exercise regime.

The hip and foot can affect patella tendon pain?!

It is known that the hip and foot/ ankle can influence movement patterns and may impact patellar tendon loading. Did you know that?

What is patellar tendinopathy, and can I get better?

Patellar tendinopathy is distinguished by its pain, localised to the front of the knee. Management of patellar tendinopathy can be done through exercise, and by avoiding common pitfalls.

Tendinopathies. A brief.

Tendinopathy is the umbrella term to refer to a non-rupture injury in the tendon. It develops because of repetitive overuse and loading of the tendon. Diagnostic imaging may be helpful, but cannot be used as the sole indicator to diagnose tendinopathy.