Patellar tendinitis

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Not to be confused with Runner's knee which often affects runners; or Sinding-Larsen and Johansson syndrome and Osgood-Schlatter disease.
Patellar tendinitis
SynonymsPatellar tendinopathy, jumper's knee, patellar tendinosis, patellar tendinitis
Patellar Tendonitis.jpg
SpecialtyRheumatology Edit this on Wikidata

Patellar tendinitis, also known as jumper's knee, is a common cause of knee pain among athletes. It is a repetitive strain injury to the tendon connecting the patella, or kneecap, with the shinbone.[1] Jumper's knee commonly occurs in athletes who are involved in jumping sports such as basketball and volleyball, but can affect any athlete.

Signs and symptoms[edit]

Patients report anterior knee pain, often with an aching quality. The symptom onset is insidious. Rarely is a discrete injury described. Usually, the problem is below the kneecap but it may also be above. Depending on the duration of symptoms, jumper's knee can be classified into 1 of 4 stages, as follows:

Stage 1Pain only after activity, without functional impairment

Stage 2Pain during and after activity, although the patient is still able to perform satisfactorily in his or her sport

Stage 3Prolonged pain during and after activity, with increasing difficulty in performing at a satisfactory level

Stage 4Complete tendon tear requiring surgical repair

It begins as inflammation in the patellar tendon where it attaches to the patella and may progress by tearing or degenerating the tendon. Patients present with an ache over the patella tendon. Most patients are between 10 and 16 years old. Magnetic resonance imaging can reveal edema (increased T2 signal intensity) in the proximal aspect of the patellar tendon.


It is an overuse injury from repetitive overloading of the extensor mechanism of the knee. The microtears exceed the body's healing mechanism unless the activity is stopped.

Among the risk factors for patellar tendonitis are low ankle dorsiflexion, weak gluteal muscles, and muscle tightness, particularly in the calves, quadriceps muscle, and hamstrings.[2]

Studies have shown it may be associated with stiff ankle movement and ankle sprains.[3][4]


A physiotherapist performs a physical examination. If the symptoms are severe, further tests may be done, such as magnetic resonance imaging, or ultrasound.


Early stages may be treated conservatively using the R.I.C.E method: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

Exercises involving eccentric muscle contractions of the quadriceps on a decline board are strongly supported by extant literature.[5][6][7][8] A physical therapist may also recommend specific exercises and stretches to strengthen the muscles and tendons, eg. cycling or swimming. Use of a strap for jumper's knee and suspension inlays for shoes may also reduce the problems.

Should this fail, autologous blood injection, or platelet-rich plasma injection may be performed and is typically successful though not as successful as high volume saline injection (Crisp et al.).[citation needed] Uncommonly it may require surgery to remove myxoid degeneration in the tendon. This is reserved for patients with debilitating pain for 6–12 months despite conservative measures. Novel treatment modalities targeting the abnormal blood vessel growth which occurs in the condition are currently being investigated.[citation needed] New research shows that knee operations in most cases have no better effects than exercise programs, and that most knee operations thus can be avoided.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Patellar tendinitis". Mayo Clinic. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  2. ^ Koban M (2013). Beating Patellar Tendonitis. pp. 20–25. ISBN 978-1491049730.
  3. ^ Marcus A (7 October 2011). "Stiff ankles tied to young athletes' painful knees". Reuters.
  4. ^ Backman LJ, Danielson P (December 2011). "Low range of ankle dorsiflexion predisposes for patellar tendinopathy in junior elite basketball players: a 1-year prospective study". The American Journal of Sports Medicine. 39 (12): 2626–33. doi:10.1177/0363546511420552. PMID 21917610.
  5. ^ Cannell LJ, Taunton JE, Clement DB, Smith C, Khan KM (February 2001). "A randomised clinical trial of the efficacy of drop squats or leg extension/leg curl exercises to treat clinically diagnosed jumper's knee in athletes: pilot study". British Journal of Sports Medicine. 35 (1): 60–4. doi:10.1136/bjsm.35.1.60. PMID 11157465.
  6. ^ Purdam CR, Jonsson P, Alfredson H, Lorentzon R, Cook JL, Khan KM (August 2004). "A pilot study of the eccentric decline squat in the management of painful chronic patellar tendinopathy". British Journal of Sports Medicine. 38 (4): 395–7. doi:10.1136/bjsm.2003.000053. PMC 1724885. PMID 15273169.
  7. ^ Kongsgaard M, Aagaard P, Roikjaer S, Olsen D, Jensen M, Langberg H, Magnusson SP (August 2006). "Decline eccentric squats increases patellar tendon loading compared to standard eccentric squats". Clinical Biomechanics. 21 (7): 748–54. doi:10.1016/j.clinbiomech.2006.03.004. PMID 16675081.
  8. ^ Visnes H, Bahr R (April 2007). "The evolution of eccentric training as treatment for patellar tendinopathy (jumper's knee): a critical review of exercise programmes". British Journal of Sports Medicine. 41 (4): 217–23. doi:10.1136/bjsm.2006.032417. PMC 2658948. PMID 17261559.

Further reading[edit]

  • Helms, Clyde (2009). Musculoskeletal MRI. ISBN 978-1-4160-5534-1. OCLC 909784879.
  • Khan KM, Bonar F, Desmond PM, Cook JL, Young DA, Visentini PJ, Fehrmann MW, Kiss ZS, O'Brien PA, Harcourt PR, Dowling RJ, O'Sullivan RM, Crichton KJ, Tress BM, Wark JD (September 1996). "Patellar tendinosis (jumper's knee): findings at histopathologic examination, US, and MR imaging. Victorian Institute of Sport Tendon Study Group". Radiology. 200 (3): 821–7. doi:10.1148/radiology.200.3.8756939. PMID 8756939.
  • Kettunen JA, Kvist M, Alanen E, Kujala UM (2017). "Long-term prognosis for jumper's knee in male athletes. A prospective follow-up study". The American Journal of Sports Medicine. 30 (5): 689–92. doi:10.1177/03635465020300051001. PMID 12239003.
  • Crisp T, Khan F, Padhiar N, Morrissey D, King J, Jalan R, Maffulli N, Frcr OC (2009). "High volume ultrasound guided injections at the interface between the patellar tendon and Hoffa's body are effective in chronic patellar tendinopathy: A pilot study". Disability and Rehabilitation. 30 (20–22): 1625–34. doi:10.1080/09638280701830936. PMID 18608403.
  • Järvinen TL, Guyatt GH (July 2016). "Arthroscopic surgery for knee pain". BMJ. 354: i3934. doi:10.1136/bmj.i3934. PMID 27439983.

External links[edit]

External resources