Recover from Patellar Tendonitis (Jumper’s Knee) with the latest non-surgical treatments including platelet-rich plasma injections, corticosteroid injections, physical therapy, and chiropractic care as well as alternative treatments such as extracorporeal shockwave therapy. Our pain specialists are experts in patellar tendonitis and can pinpoint the source of your pain and prescribe a personalized, time-tested treatment plan that works. Visit any of pain management offices and meet our physicians to get the patellar tendon pain relief you need in the safe, reassuring hands of the best doctors in New York City.
Patellar Tendonitis in Downtown Brooklyn & Lower Manhattan
Patellar tendonitis is a condition that can affect anyone. It occurs once the tendon, which has the function of connecting the kneecap, respectively the patella, to the shinbone, or tibia, is injured or inflamed. Pain ranges from being mild to severe. It is a condition that most frequently affects athletes, especially those athletes who play basketball or volleyball. In such cases, the condition is referred to as jumper’s knee.
Patellar tendon pain is considered to be one of the first symptoms that this condition leads to. Some feel tenderness at the base of the kneecap, which can be accompanied by swelling or a burning feeling. If you kneel or get up after a squat causes pain, the chances are that you might be suffering from patellar tendonitis.
What causes patellar tendonitis?
In general, patellar tendonitis is caused by stress that is put on the knee repetitively. This occurs most often due to overuse during sports or exercising. Repetitive stress put on the knee can lead to tiny tears in the tendon, which can over time weaken it and lead to inflammation.
Some of the contributing factors to patellar tendonitis are:
- being obese
- wearing shoes that don’t provide enough support and don’t have enough padding
- having uneven leg muscle strength
- having misaligned feet, ankles, or legs
- doing sports on hard surfaces
- suffering from a chronic disease, which can weaken the tendon
The patellar tendon is more at risk in athletes, as running, jumping, or squatting put more force on it than other activities. It is estimated that running can put a force of five times your body weight on the knees.
Doing intense workouts for a long period is also associated with a patellar tendon tear. Studies have shown that athletes who have an increased jump frequency, such as basketball players or volleyball players, are also at an increased risk of suffering from patellar tendon pain.
What symptoms does patellar tendonitis lead to?
Patellar tendon pain is considered to be one of the first symptoms that this condition leads to. Some feel tenderness at the base of the kneecap, which can be accompanied by swelling or a burning feeling. If you kneel or get up after a squat causes pain, chances are that you might be suffering from patellar tendonitis.
The pain can be sporadic in the beginning stages of the condition, and it might occur only after an exercise activity or only after sports. However, as the patellar tendon gets further damaged, the pain might progress and worsen. This can lead to the pain becoming so severe that it interferes with daily activities, such as:
- climbing the stairs
If you suffer from pain or swelling which doesn’t go away after a day or two, you must see a doctor.
What does diagnosing patellar tendonitis look like?
Symptoms. At the beginning of your visit, your physician will ask you about the symptoms that you have been experiencing, the time when the symptoms occur, whether any activities make the pain worse, how physically active you generally are, whether there is anything that helps to ease the pain and your medical history.
Physical exam. Your doctor will also perform a physical exam of the knee, check the areas where you feel the pain, and test how much you can move your knee, for example, by asking you to extend or bend your leg.
Tests. You might also need to have some imaging tests done. Such imaging tests will help get a better view of the kneecap and tendon and will help to determine whether the tendon or bone is damaged. Such tests can also help rule out any other causes of the pain, such as a fracture.
Some imaging tests that your doctor might perform include:
- Ultrasound. An ultrasound can help to have a closer look at the tendon, and it can show whether there is any soft tissue damage present.
- MRI. An MRI can also show damage to the soft tissue and can help your physician to have a closer look at the tendon.
- X-ray. An X-ray can be helpful to determine whether the kneecap is displaced or whether you have suffered a kneecap fracture.
Can patellar tendonitis lead to complications?
In cases where you don’t get patellar tendonitis treatment, the condition can progress and worsen. This can lead to further damage of the patellar tendon, which can continue limiting your daily activities.
It can be very difficult for athletes to stop working out and to rest. This can have a toll on them emotionally, which is why it is so important to get the necessary support. In some cases, a patellar tendonitis complication can mean an end of a career for professional athletes. It is therefore so important to rest as soon as pain is felt and seek treatment. Treating the condition early on can help prevent such severe complications.
What does treatment for patellar tendonitis look like?
Patellar tendonitis treatment depends on how severe the injury is. In its beginning stages, it can be sufficient to take some conservative measures, such as:
- slowly strengthening the leg muscles
- avoid putting force on the knee for some time
Over-the-counter drugs can help to provide short-term pain relief and can also help to reduce inflammation. Typically prescribed over-the-counter drugs include:
- naproxen sodium
Corticosteroid injections. In cases where the pain is more severe, you might be given corticosteroid injections in the area that surrounds the patellar tendon. This is a more effective way of reducing severe pain. There are, however reports, that corticosteroid injections can also weaken the tendon and even make it more likely to rupture. Therefore, considerable must put into this treatment and the risks associated with it.
Corticosteroids can also spread over the knee using a low electrical charge, which helps to push it through the skin. This treatment is referred to as iontophoresis.
Crutches or brace. In cases where the pain continues to remain severe, even after you have rested your legs, the doctor might recommend using crutches or wearing a brace, as this can help prevent further damage to the tendon. Once the pain is relatively gone, you can begin slowly returning to physical therapy activities.
Physical therapy. Treatment for patellar tendonitis also often includes physical therapy. The main goal of this treatment option is to help reduce inflammation and pain while stretching and strengthening the leg and the thigh muscles.
A physical therapy session generally includes a warm-up time, icing or massaging the knee, and stretching exercises, followed by strengthening exercises. Some physical therapists also use electrical stimulation or ultrasound, which can also help ease knee pain. Wearing a knee brace or taping the knee is also a helpful pain reduction technique, reducing pain while exercising, as it helps keep the kneecap in place.
You will also get an exercise program from your therapist, which might include stretching exercises, which you can do at home, isometric exercises, eccentric exercises, and flexibility exercises for the thigh and your calf.
Isometric exercises help relieve pain and are exercises where the joint angle and the muscle length remain fixed during contractions. Eccentric exercises are squats, which are performed on a decline board at a 25.degree angle. Studies show that this strengthening method can improve athletes who suffer from patellar tendonitis but continued being physically active while still on treatment.
Platelet-rich plasma injection.
There are also some alternative patellar tendonitis treatments available. One of them, which is also a relatively new treatment, is a platelet-rich plasma injection. A platelet-rich plasma injection uses a concentration of platelets, which is withdrawn from your blood and injected to promote healing of the tendon. Studies have found that it can be more effective to get two consecutive injections rather than only one.
Ultrasound-guided dry needling.
Some other alternative patellar tendonitis treatments are available, which are, however, still being studied. One of them is ultrasound-guided dry needling. It is a process that involves making small holes in the tendon. This technique is referred to as dry needle fenestration and can help promote healing and relieve pain.
Other, still studied alternative treatments include:
- Injections with polidocanol. Injections with polidocanol and high volume ultrasound-guided injections aim to break up new blood vessels on the tendon.
- Hyperthermia thermotherapy. Hyperthermia thermotherapy uses deep-tissue heating and cooling devices on the surface of the skin to relieve pain.
- Extracorporeal shockwave therapy. Extracorporeal shockwave therapy is a treatment option found to reduce pain for as long as two years.
In cases where all other treatments for patellar tendonitis aren’t successful, you might need surgery to help repair the patellar tendon. A traditional procedure involves opening the knee and scraping the knee cap and the tendon. However, a new procedure that is used for patellar tendonitis patients is known as arthroscopic surgery.
This technique involves making only four small incisions on the knee and comes with a much shorter recovery time. Recovering from surgery for patellar tendonitis can vary in time. There are some surgical protocols, who advise wearing a cast after the operation. However, other strategies for healing suggest that it is more effective to undergo an aggressive and immediate exercise program right after the procedure.
Generally speaking, it is estimated that patellar tendonitis patients who have undergone surgery can go back to high-level activities approximately three months and up to one year after surgery.
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What is the outlook for patellar tendonitis?
Recovery of patellar tendonitis depends on how severe the injury was. There are cases where patellar tendonitis in athletes becomes chronic, while in other cases, patellar tendonitis treatment enables them to go back to the normal functioning of the tendon.
It is estimated that mild injuries take 3 weeks to recover from, whereas more severe injuries might take between six to eight months or more.
Some important factors can determine how successful rehabilitation is, such as whether you stick to the rehabilitation program and exercise regularly, whether you pay attention to pain and rest when necessary and whether you gradually resume your sports activity. If you are concerned about your recovery and how long it is taking, make sure to address it at your next doctor’s appointment.
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