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Patellar Tendinopathy: Causes and treatment

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Patellar Tendinopathy: Causes and treatment

Who is most likely to benefit from this article? Anybody that has been diagnosed with patellar tendinopathy or has been experiencing pain around the kneecap area. This article contains background information about the condition and how to treat the symptoms at home, following any guidance from a medical professional where applicable.

What is the patella?

 

The patella is more commonly known as the kneecap, and it sits at the front of the knee protecting the joint. A hard and triangular bone, the patella seemingly floats above the knee but it is in fact connected to muscles above and below the knee joint by a series of ligaments. The kneecap doesn?t just protect the knee joint either, it also plays a role as a lever to the leg muscles which assists in moving the leg.

 

Knee joints are put under a great deal of stress during the course of a day?s activities, no matter what they may be, and the patellar?protects it from injury. In the case of blunt force trauma, the kneecap helps to ensure that skin and bone take the brunt of the damage rather than the much more delicate muscle, tendons, cartilage, and ligaments.

What is patellar tendinopathy?

 

Where a tendon does not heal after injury, such as one caused by overuse, this brings on patellar tendinopathy. The result is pain, swelling, lack of mobility, stiffness and very often a limp. patellar tendinopathy affects the tendon that sits below the kneecap (patella) and connects the bone to the shin bone.

 

Sometimes referred to as jumper?s knee, patellar tendinopathy causes pain right over the tendon and this can be made worse with running, kneeling and jumping (which where the jumper?s knee name came from).

How common is patellar tendinopathy?

 

Patellar tendinopathy is a fairly common complaint in those that are very physically active. This is especially true in activities that involve lots of jumping such as netball and basketball. Aside from these sports, runners can also see this kind of condition due to the high impact nature of the activity on the knees.

 

Causes and risk factors of patellar tendinopathy

 

The condition is a very common injury brought on by overuse and repeated stress on the related tendon. These stresses cause small tears to appear in the tendon which the body will attempt to repair. However, as the number of tears grows, due to repeated stress, there will be pain and inflammation caused by the tendon becoming weaker.

 

When the damage goes unchecked for a period of several weeks, this is called tendinopathy, or in this case patellar tendinopathy.

 

There are several factors that can contribute to the onset of this condition, and these included:

 

  • Physical activity – running, jumping etc.

 

  • Tight leg muscles – thigh and hamstring muscles can increase stress on the tendon when taught

 

  • Muscular imbalance – if you have an unstable knee, with some muscles being stronger than others, the pull from unevenly matched muscles can cause tendinitis.

 

Symptoms

 

The first symptom of patellar tendinitis is pain, which will normally be felt between the kneecap and the shin bone.

 

This pain will:

 

  • Be felt, at first, only when physical activity is started

 

  • Will get more intense as the activity continues

 

  • Will eventually get in the way of regular movements such as standing from a seated position and climbing stairs

 

Treatment

 

The most common method of treatment for this condition is simply stopping the activity that caused the problem until the situation remedies itself. Ice packs can help with pain and swelling, so long as they are only used for up to 20 minutes at a time, and wrapped in cloth.

 

Anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen can also help with pain management and bring the swelling down. Walking such not be an issue at this stage so total leg rest and elevation should not be required but sports are almost certainly out of the question until the tendon has healed.

 

Isometrics

 

  • Seated knee extension –

Sit on a chair. Use your hand to prop up the leg by supporting it at the back of the thigh. Push your toes against an object in front of you. Now try to straighten your knee and hold it against the resistance in mid-range.

  • Seated knee extension with band -?

Sit on a chair and anchor an elastic band behind your injured knee. Now attach the other end to the base of your foot. Now try to straighten your knee and hold it against the resistance of the elastic in mid-range.

  • Front squats –

In standing place your feet hip-width apart. Now try lower your bottom towards the floor without moving your knees forwards as shown on the video. Hold the form at the midrange of the exercise for 30-45 seconds. Make sure to have the natural curvature of your spine throughout the movement.


Double leg decline squats – ?

Stand on a 25-degree decline board and place your feet hip-width apart. Place one foot in front and try to balance yourself first. Then try to lower your bottom towards the floor without moving your knee forwards as shown on the video. Hold the form at the midrange of the exercise for 30-45 seconds. Make sure to have the natural curvature of your spine throughout the movement

 

  • Leg Press – ?

Sit on the machine with your back against the support. Place your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Your legs should form roughly an angle of 90 degrees from the knee. Push the plate platform away with your feet by extending the knees and hips, and pushing back into the seat. Bring your knees back towards your chest and allow the foot plate to return to the starting position. Hold the form at the midrange of the exercise for 30-45 seconds

Strength

 

  • Seated knee extension –

Sit on a chair. Use your hand to prop up the leg by supporting it at the back of the thigh. Now try to straighten your knee as much as you can. ?

  • Seated knee extension with band –

Sit on a chair and anchor an elastic band behind your injured knee. Now attach the other end to the base of your foot. Now try to extend and straighten your knee against the resistance of the elastic.


Double leg decline squats – ?

Stand on a 25-degree decline board and place your feet hip-width apart. Place one foot in front and try to balance yourself first. Then try to lower your bottom towards the floor without moving your knee forwards as shown on the video. Make sure to have the natural curvature of your spine throughout the movement

 

  • Front squats – ??

In standing place your feet hip-width apart. Now try lower your bottom towards the floor without moving your knees forwards as shown on the video. Hold the form at the midrange of the exercise for 30-45 seconds. Make sure to have the natural curvature of your spine throughout the movement.


Single leg decline squats –??

Stand on a 25-degree decline board and place one foot in front and try to balance yourself first. Then try to lower your bottom towards the floor without moving your knee forwards as shown on the video. Try to gradually increase the depth that you could cover. Make sure to have the natural curvature of your spine throughout the movement

 

Hack squat –

Place the back of your torso against the back pad of the machine and hook your shoulders under the shoulder pads provided. Position your legs in the platform using a shoulder width medium stance with the toes slightly pointed out. Now straighten your legs without locking the knees. This will be your starting position. Begin to slowly lower the unit by bending the knees as you maintain a straight posture with the head up (back on the pad at all times). Continue down until the angle between the upper leg and the calves becomes slightly less than 90-degrees Begin to raise the unit as you exhale by pushing the floor with mainly with the heel of your foot as you straighten the legs again and go back to the starting position.

For more information about Patellar Tendinopathy

If you would like additional information about Patellar Tendinopathy?or to discuss how we may be able to help with your queries please contact us using the form below and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

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