Jumper’s Knee

High JumpPatella tendonitis, or as it is commonly called, Jumper’s knee, is a repetitive use injury that occurs most commonly to individuals from 10-40 years old. To fully understand the injury, we have to understand the anatomy.

The patella tendon lies in the front aspect of our knee. It connects the quadriceps, the muscle in the front of your thigh, to the tibia, or shin bone. The patella bone, is a small bone that is positioned on top of the tendon. Force is placed on this tendon every time the knee is straightened. High force is required to perform explosive actions like jumping or running. Individuals who constantly jump or run are at the highest risk for this injury. This is due to small tears, or micro-trauma, that occur to the tendon with repetitive actions. This gradual damage leads to inflammation and swelling. Pain that occurs with straightening the knee is the most common symptom. Tenderness may be present when the area around the knee cap is touched. Weakness can follow as the symptoms progress.

Most people will start noticing the symptoms with performance of athletic activities but the pain can progress to where standing from a chair is difficult. The injury is usually diagnosed through a physical exam. X-rays may be used to rule out fractures and an MRI can be used to determine the extent of the damage in the tendon. Initial treatment consists of R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). A knee brace is usually worn to reduce the stress on the tendon. Full recovery can take 3-6 months. Some cases only require an ease into activity as the symptoms subside. Most cases are not that easy and a skilled physical therapist is required to determine why the injury occurred. Commonly, poor mobility of the ankle and hip leads to increased stress on the knee. Proper stretching can correct the limitations in motion and allow for a return to activity.

Another common cause is poor form with squatting, running, or jumping. Improved techniques reduce stress on the knee and therefore create less micro-trauma when participating in high force activities. A third major cause of the injury is muscle imbalances. Weak gluteal muscles are the usual culprit but poor strength and balance between the quadriceps and hamstring could also be a cause.

If your knee is bothering you from that nagging Jumper’s knee, come on down to Advanced PMR for a full assessment to return you to your athletic activities.

Posted in: Knee, Pain

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