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Patellar Tendonitis

Patellar TendonitisPatellar tendonitis is a painful condition in the knee tendon that can be minimized if addressed promptly. However, left untreated, it may escalate into chronic pain and disability. Pro Spine & Pain serves Wisconsin with locations in Kenosha, Waukesha, Layton, Franklin, and Madison, offering specialized treatment for patellar tendonitis to alleviate your symptoms and speed up your recovery. Seeking medical attention at the first sign of knee pain is crucial to prevent long-term consequences.

The knee relies on various tendons and ligaments for support, among which the patellar tendon plays a vital role in stabilizing the kneecap and facilitating smooth movement. Together with the quadriceps muscles in the front of the thigh, this tendon enables activities such as running, jumping, kicking, and walking. For this reason, sports medicine specialists often see this injury. Athletes—particularly those engaged in sports involving repetitive jumping like volleyball or basketball—are prone to patella tendon injuries or tears, earning the condition the nickname “jumper’s knee.”

However, patellar tendonitis can affect individuals regardless of their involvement in jumping sports. At Pro Spine & Pain, our pain management experts utilize cutting-edge technology and tools to pinpoint the source of your pain, ensuring accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. Don’t delay seeking assistance; early intervention is key to managing patellar tendonitis and preventing further complications.

Symptoms of Patellar Tendon Tear

The main symptom of patellar tendonitis is pain, typically felt between the kneecap and shin bone. It is often exacerbated during physical activity but can persist even at rest. Many athletes experience impaired performance due to this pain. If left untreated, the pain may escalate, affecting activities like stair climbing or rising from a chair.

While rest and ice may provide temporary relief, consulting specialists at Pro Spine & Pain is advisable, especially if the discomfort persists or worsens over time. Redness in addition to pain and swelling may indicate potential complications. If your daily activities are consistently disrupted by pain, seeking medical attention is recommended for proper evaluation and management.

Risk Factors for Patellar Tendonitis

While patellar tendonitis can affect anyone, certain factors may increase susceptibility to this condition.
Various factors contribute to the likelihood of requiring treatment for patellar tendonitis:

  • Tight muscles in the front or back of the thigh can strain the patellar tendon, predisposing individuals to tendonitis.
  • Activities like jumping or running can place repetitive stress on the knee, increasing the risk of tendonitis developing.
  • Changes in running shoes or sudden increases in running intensity can also strain the patellar tendon, leading to inflammation.
  • Being taller or heavier than average may exacerbate the strain on the knee joint and increase the risk of tendonitis.
  • A chronic medical condition such as diabetes, lupus, kidney failure, or rheumatoid arthritis can weaken the tendon and make it more prone to injury.
  • Young, active individuals in their teens, 20s, and 30s who engage in rigorous physical activities and might push through pain are at higher risk.
  • Athletes focusing on strengthening specific leg muscles while neglecting others may create muscle imbalances, increasing the risk of tendonitis.

Ignoring the pain can worsen patellar tendonitis, potentially leading to chronic tendinopathy. Small or partial tears in the patellar tendon may progress, eventually resulting in complete tendon separation from the kneecap, a condition that requires surgery. If the patellar tendon ruptures or tears completely, you will experience a popping sound, bruising, significant pain, difficulty walking, and difficulty in straightening the knee. It’s crucial to heed your body’s signals and communicate your symptoms to your Pro Spine & Pain specialist for appropriate management without the need for surgery.

Patellar Tendonitis Treatment

Your physician will evaluate your knee, legs, and gait, and may request imaging tests to diagnose patellar tears or tendonitis accurately. Unless the tears are extensive, the initial approach to treatment typically emphasizes conservative and non-invasive methods before considering more aggressive interventions.
Various treatment options exist, which will be tailored to your individual needs:

  • Rest and activity modification are fundamental to alleviate stress on the patellar tendon, allowing it to heal effectively. Additionally, ice application reduces inflammation and provides pain relief. Anti-inflammatory medications, including over-the-counter pain relievers, or short-term prescription drugs, help manage pain symptoms.
  • Assistive devices such as knee braces offer protection to the tendon, preventing further tearing, and providing additional support. Crutches, coupled with braces, may be necessary to take the weight from the affected knee during the healing process.
  • Working with a physical therapist will play a pivotal role, addressing muscle imbalances through strengthening exercises and enhancing flexibility with stretching routines. Innovative techniques like iontophoresis use electrical stimulation to deliver topical medication, while patellar tendon straps redistribute forces on the tendon, offering supplementary support.
  • Injections may be administered, including corticosteroids to reduce inflammation, pain-relievers, or platelet-rich plasma to stimulate tissue growth and encourage healing.
  • For severe cases, outpatient surgical procedures may be recommended, involving precise removal of damaged tissue while preserving healthy tendon sections. Surgical options aim to alleviate problematic scarring that could impede healing or make patellar tears even worse.
  • Complete tears may necessitate surgical repair, followed by an extensive six-month recovery period, including physical therapy for several weeks after surgery to strengthen the tendon and surrounding muscles.

Early intervention is crucial for optimal outcomes in patellar tendonitis treatment. Contact your Pro Spine & Pain specialist promptly to address patellar tendon pain effectively and get you back to your sports and other daily activities.

Updated on Apr 26, 2024 by Dr. Thomas Stauss (Pain Management) of Pro Spine & Pain

Thomas Stauss, MD

Thomas Stauss, MD, completed both his undergraduate and medical studies at the esteemed University of Wisconsin in Madison. Dr. Stauss values having access to a wide array of cutting-edge treatment options, ensuring effective relief for his patients' discomfort and a significant enhancement in their quality of life. More specifically, he specializes in utilizing implanted devices to manage chronic pain. Dr. Stauss’s primary objective is to uphold the dignity of each patient while delivering ethical and professional services.

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