It might be commonly known as jumper’s knee, but patellar tendonitis can affect men and women across the whole range of Olympic sports.
In 2012, Rafael Nadal pulled out of the London Olympics with tendinitis in his left knee. Cycling star and Olympic gold medalist Victoria Pendleton has suffered from patellar tendonitis. Basketball legend and Team USA lynchpin Carmela Anthony’s dream of a third Olympic gold at Rio this month was in jeopardy due to a suspected combination of patellar tendonitis and osteoarthritis.
Olympic weightlifters are often bedevilled with this particular knee condition due to the continual squatting action combined with heavy loads.
Patellar tendonitis is an overuse injury of the knee. The tendons are the strong bands of connective fibrous tissue that attach the muscles to the bones. The patellar tendon connects the bottom of the kneecap, known as the patella, to the tibia or shinbone. It is attached to the quadriceps muscles by the quadriceps tendon.
The patellar tendon assists with knee extension when you kick, jump or run so is used – and sometimes overused – in most sporting activities.
What is patellar tendonitis?
Tissue damage and inflammation of the patellar tendon due to overuse can result in pain located in the front of the knee and, eventually, difficulties performing even limited daily activities. Olympic stars risk developing this knee condition, but it can just as easily affect sports men and women at any level, in a wide range of activities. It is particularly common in those sports where there is constant jumping and landing such as netball.
It is usually characterised by a gradual development of pain in the knee cap and initially you may just notice the pain occur in rest periods after strenuous activity or during the warm-up period. However, the condition can easily worsen and the discomfort felt will start to affect function of the knee and even just walking or standing can exacerbate the pain. There may also be a sensation of knee weakness.
How will patellar tendonitis be treated?
The first step at Mr Jonathan Webb’s Bristol and London knee clinic will be to diagnose the condition. A comprehensive patient history and physical examination may be sufficient, but an MRI or ultrasound scan may be ordered to assess the severity.
Non-surgical treatment of patellar tendonitis may be sufficient. Physical rehabilitation may take a number of weeks or months and the patient will be advised to avoid sporting activities that will aggravate the problem, before a gradual return is advised. It is essential not to ignore the symptoms as this can lead to tears in the tendon.
If this is the case, then surgical repair of the tendon may be advised. To arrange a consultation for patellar tendonitis at Mr Webb’s London or Bristol knee clinics, call 08450 60 44 99 to speak to one of his tea