Knee pain - Jump out of Jumper's Knee

In this post……

What Is Patella Tendinopathy?

Common Symptoms

Who Gets Patella Tendinopathy?

Knee anatomy

Treatment For Patella Tendinopathy 


 What Is Patella Tendinopathy?

The patella tendon is an important structure located below the knee cap that forms part of the quadriceps muscles. Its job is to act like a spring to store and release energy and therefore becomes loaded during explosive activities such as jumping and running. 

Overtime, excessive loading/stress to this tendon can result in pain, stiffness and swelling; and may reduce the ability of the tendon to function effectively. This is known as Patella Tendinopathy or Jumpers Knee.

Common Symptoms

The tell-tale signs of Jumpers Knee include:

Pain/stiffness below the patella (knee-cap)

Pain/stiffness that increase with activity, especially explosive movements such as jumping

Pain while walking downstairs or during the downward component of a squat

 

Who Gets Patella Tendinopathy?

Patellar tendinopathy is most common in younger (15-30 years old), active individuals involved in explosive sports such as basketball, volleyball, athletics, tennis and football. These sports require regular loading of the patella tendon which puts it at a higher risk of developing an overuse tendinopathy. However this presentation can happen at any age, with any repetitive activity. 

Other factors that can contribute include:

  • Sudden or excessive changes in exercise load – Patella tendinopathy can often occur when starting sport/exercise or increasing the amount of exercise you do.

  • Poor technique such as landing with straight knees or stiff ankles places additional stress on the patella tendon causing it become overloaded overtime. Poor technique is often a result of a lack of mobility (such as in the ankles, hamstrings, quads or hips) or poor strength/control in key lower limb muscles.

  • In some cases recent injury around the knee may also contribute.

Tendinopathies usually have a gradual onset but can quickly worsen without adequate management. 


Treatment For Patella Tendinopathy

Short-term management:

These methods can be used to manage pain and swelling and can be very effective in the short term. However they do not address the underlying problems (looking at these will ensure long term prevention and improved performance).

  • RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) – These methods can be used after exercise to manage pain and swelling.

  • Taping: Certain taping techniques can be used to reduce the stresses on the patella tendon during activity. This is where your physio can come in handy! 

 

Long-term management:

  • Load management (relative rest): Modifying your training load can be used to reduce repeated stresses on the tendon and allow time for recovery while still participating in sport/exercise. This may involve:

    • Temporarily limiting explosive movements.

    • Scheduling longer rests between explosive training days. 

    • A gradual return to full activity following relative rest. Proper planning and timing of your return to sport will allow time for the tendon to adapt to the demands of training.

  • Exercise (tendon loading): Specific exercises can be used to increases the strength and loading capacity of the tendon, making it more resilient to the demands of your sport/exercise and improving performance.

  • Mobility: Poor movement at the joint and muscle length can be addressed through the use hands on therapy (including soft tissue massage, joint mobilisations, and stretching), mobility exercises, stretching, and specific strengthening.

  • Technique modification: Improving strength and control of knees, ankle, hip and trunk and practicing better movement helps to reduce the loading of the patella tendon, reduce injury risk and improve athletic performance.

Some other options:

NSAIDS

This is a fancy acronym for “non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs”. An example is ibuprofen. Evidence in its use for knee pain is lacking and there is known side effects to utilising these drugs. In our opinion, they can be adjuncts to therapy to help with the pain early on, but they do nothing to target the cause of the pain in the first place.

CORTICOSTEROID INJECTIONS

These can be used in the short term for pain management and there is evidence to suggest they can be helpful in reducing pain in the short term. Similarly to NASAIDs, this may be a good adjunct for therapy, but in our opinion when used alone does not address the causative factors.


Exercises for Patella Tendinopathy

Wall Sit 

Wall sit

Isometric or static exercises (no movement) have been found to be effective at reducing pain and improving tendon strength during the early stage of patella tendinopathy. These exercises are best performed along with load management strategies and while addressing the underlying causes. The Wall Sit (described below) is a simple exercise you can use to get started with your recovery.

 The Wall Sit: 

Stand with your hips, back and head against a wall with your feet out in front. 

Bend your knees and lower yourself to a position that you can comfortably hold for 45sec with minimal knee pain/discomfort (a little bit of pain is okay).

Give yourself a short rest (1-2 min) and repeat the 45sec hold. Evidence indicates this exercise should be performed 3-5 times and repeated at least twice each day for the best results.

As the pain subsides and you become stronger bend lower into a deeper sit to keep it challenging.

This exercise is also a great way to warm up your patella tendon before sport.

 

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Do you still have knee pain? Or do you just want a comprehensive assessment and management plan to guide your recovery? Call us today on 9629 6169 to book an appointment or enquire online here.