Will Patellar Tendonitis Ever Go Away
Patellar tendonitis will typically go away with rest, medications, and physical therapy

Patellar tendonitis typically goes away in about 6 weeks, although full recovery may take several months of rest, medications, and physical therapy. Pain may resolve in 3-4 weeks.

If left untreated, patellar tendonitis can worsen over time and even cause chronic knee pain.

What is patellar tendonitis?

The patellar tendon is a ligament connecting the bottom of the kneecap (patella) to the top of the tibia (shinbone). The patellar tendon provides stability, holding the two bones together. It helps the quadriceps muscles and other connective tissues work together to help you move and jump.

Patellar tendonitis occurs when the patellar tendon tissue is inflamed or irritated. Overuse of patellar tendon tissue causes knee injury. Also called jumper’s knee, it is mostly seen in basketball and volleyball players where there is repeated jumping.

Patellar tendonitis may result in mild to severe knee pain. Rest and bracing the knee may help the tissue to heal in a few weeks.

What causes patellar tendonitis?

Patellar tendonitis is caused by repeatedly pushing tendon tissues too far or fast. The repetitive jumping and sprinting motions strain the bands of patellar tendon tissues, inflammation, and irritation. Over time, the minor strains and tiny tears make the patellar tendon tissues weak and painful.

Medical experts believe that the following two activities may damage the patellar tendon that causes damage to the tissue;

  • Suddenly increasing activity
  • Returning to activity full force after a long break instead of slowly returning to a routine

What are the risk factors for patellar tendonitis?

  • Age: Adults older than 40 years of age are at higher risk of developing the condition.
  • Level of participation in sports: More intense training in any sport puts stress on the tissues. Athletes participating in the competitive or professional training level are at higher risk than recreational players.
  • Type of physical activity: Risks of developing patellar tendonitis are higher with repeated jumping, sprinting, and abrupt movements at fast speeds. In addition, any activities that put a lot of stress on the knee may result in patellar tendonitis. These may include:
    • Basketball
    • Volleyball
    • Football
    • Gymnastics
    • Skating
    • Dance
    • Running
    • Track

SLIDESHOW

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What are symptoms of patellar tendonitis?

In patellar tendonitis, symptoms may worsen slowly. Initially, you may feel mild knee pain that gets sharper and more severe over time. Sometimes the symptoms may cause difficulty in performing daily tasks.

Symptoms may include:

  • Pain or a dull ache that occurs in the top of the shinbone right under the kneecap
  • Swelling and tenderness around the knee
  • Stiffness that makes extending the knee difficult
  • Severe pain while squatting and walking down the stairs
  • Tearing and popping sounds with movement, in extreme cases

How is patellar tendonitis diagnosed?

Knee pain should not be ignored. Early treatment can help the problem from worsening.

To diagnose patellar tendonitis, your doctor will perform a physical examination of the knee and ask you about the severity of your pain. They may palpate your knee, move it in different directions, and test its range of motion.

An ultrasound may be ordered to check for severe damage to the patellar tendon. An MRI may also be ordered to get a clear picture of the injury. X-rays may be done to rule out the cause of pain.

What are treatment options for patellar tendonitis?

Treatment options for patellar tendonitis mainly focus on strengthening the soft tissues and managing symptoms with rest and NSAIDs

Initially, your healthcare provider may recommend conservative therapies, such as rest for a few days to weeks. In mild cases, this is often enough to relieve symptoms.

In moderate to severe cases, your doctor may recommend the following:

  • Rest your leg as much as you can.
  • Avoid activities that cause more damage to the tissues.
  • Apply ice around the knee for about 15 minutes to reduce inflammation.
  • Take pain relievers, such as anti-inflammatory drugs, to relieve minor knee pain.
  • Wear knee braces to reduce stress on the knee.
  • Learn exercises and stretches that can help relieve some of the pain.

If there is a tear in the tendon, your doctor may advise surgery to repair the damaged tissue.

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Medically Reviewed on 10/13/2022
References
Image Source: iStock image

Patellar Tendonitis. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17324-patellar-tendonitis

Patellar tendinitis. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/patellar-tendinitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20376113

Patellar Tendonitis. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/patellar-tendonitis-jumpers-knee