Patellar Tendonitis Symptoms and Treatment

Patellar tendonitis, also called as the jumper’s knee or Sinding Larsen Johansson disease, is a disorder of the inferior patellar region and is a common cause of pain among athletes.

The patellar tendon connects the knee cap to the shin bone and is composed of strong, string-like bands, surrounded by a lining of vascular tissue serving as a source of nutrition to the tendon.

Patellar tendonitis begins as an inflammation in this patellar tendon in the region of attachment to the patella (knee cap) and may later result into tearing or degeneration of the tendon also.

Causes of Patellar Tendonitis

Patellar Tendonitis is mostly caused due to repetitive overburdening of the extensor mechanism of the knee. The disease is a common among participants of various sports including baseball, cricket, golf, football, rugby, volleyball, tennis, basket ball, lacrosse, badminton, diving, skateboarding, snowboarding, gymnastics and kick boxing.

Symptoms of Patellar Tendonitis

The symptoms of patellar tendonitis may vary from one patient to another, depending upon the location and the cause. Yet, some common symptoms of patellar tendonitis are:

  • Pain directly over the patellar tendon
  • Pain during jumping or kneeling activities
  • Swelling around the patellar tendon

X-ray tests or an MRI are usually prescribed to look for areas of degenerative tendon.

Treatment for Patellar Tendonitis

Early stages of patellar tendonitis are usually treated conservatively using the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) methodology, a treatment method for soft tissue injury. It generally shortens the recovery time and also helps in minimizing pain and discomfort.

Rest: Rest is an integral part of any kind of cellular repair process.

Ice: Ice is considered great as an agent to reduce inflammation, often prescribed for application every 20 minutes, for a 24 to 48 hour period.

Compression: Usage of a light, elastic bandage would result in an increase blood flow, relieving the patient off swelling.

Elevation: Elevation aids in increasing venous return of blood to the central circulation system.

The RICE methodology is often prescribed along with other components:

  • “HI-RICE” – Hydration, Ibuprofen, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation
  • “PRICE” – Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation
  • “PRICE” – Pulse (Radial or Distal), Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation
  • “PRICES” – Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation and Support
  • “PRINCE” – Protection, Rest, Ice, NSAIDs, Compression, and Elevation
  • “RICER” – Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, Referral
  • “DRICE” – Diagnosis, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation

Certain exercises and stretches to strengthen the muscles and tendons may also be recommended as a part of a conservative treatment. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) such as Ibuprofen, Motrin, Naprosyn, Celebrex, and many others are also prescribed.

However, if these fail, autologous blood injections, injections of platelet rich plasma and high volume saline injections are prescribed.

Uncommonly, the needling therapy, also called as the prolotherapy may be required to remove myxoid degeneration in the tendon, which is mostly reserved for patients with debilitating pain for 6–12 months despite conservative measures.

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