CNY Orthopedic Sports Medicine, PC: Injury: Patellar Tendonitis

Injuries and Conditions: Knee: Patellar Tendonitis

Patellar tendonitis is an irritation or inflammation of the major tendon in front of the knee. This condition is usually the result of overuse or sudden changes in the level of athletic activity. An inflamed patellar tendon causes pain during flexion or extension of the lower leg and limits mobility of the joint.
  • Injuries are usually minor and do not require immediate medical attention. However, severe cases can cause very debilitating pain.
  • The injury is common in runners, the result of repetitive motion of the inflamed tendon. Sports like basketball in which jumping and landing cause repeated stress on the tendon are also a frequent cause of this condition.
  • The infrapatellar bursa is often irritated in conjunction with the tendon and is similarly painful and inflamed.
  • Non-surgical treatments can be used to reduce swelling and irritation, although in more extreme cases, a doctor may remove (aspirate)fluid from the inflamed bursa to lessen both the pressure and pain in the front of the knee. If prolonged swelling and inflamation continue, arthroscopic surgery may be considered.

  • Signs and Symptoms
  • Pain across the patellar tendon; most commonly at the tendon attachement point to the kneecap (patella).
  • Pain during movement of the leg, particularly while extending or straightening the leg.
  • Increasing pain during activities which require repetitive bending of the knee, such as climbing stairs, walking down hill or jumping and running.
  • Swelling and pain around the knee (visible swelling is fairly uncommon).

    Contact the Doctor if ...
  • The patient has the signs and symptoms of patellar tendonitis.
  • After treatment, the patient experiences increasing pain or weakness in the joint.
  • The patient experiences unexplained symptoms, other types of pain, or unexpected side effects of medication.

  • Common Causes of Injury
  • Tendonitis usually occurs from repetitive motions that cause the tendon to become inflamed when it is exercised beyond its normal capacity. The most common cause of this condition is overuse and overexertion.
  • Injuries can also occur as a result of sudden changes in exercise routines, especially when the level of intensity and length of training is suddenly increased.
  • Sports that involve sustained impact on the knee (i.e. running and jumping) frequently produce patellar tendonitis.

  • Expectations of Recovery
  • Patients that seek treatment and follow recommended therapy should fully recover.
  • Depending upon the severity of the injury, the time for recovery can greatly vary. A period of rest followed by gradual rehabilitation may be less than a week. Other injuries may take longer than 4 weeks.


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