Patella Tendinopathy (AKA Jumper’s Knee). What is it?
Patella tendinopathy (aka Jumper’s knee) is an overuse injury that causes pain in the patella tendon – located below the kneecap – in direct response to load. It is a condition prevalent in young athletes who participate in sports (e.g. basketball, volleyball) that involve repetitive loading of the tendon through movements such as jumping and landing.
How does the condition behave?
The following behaviours will be present:
Instant pain with loading and almost complete resolution upon removal of load
Nil pain in resting-state unless previously aggravated
“Warm-up” phenomenon where pain may improve with repeated loading however may increase the day after energy-storage loads
Pain dependent on load dosage (e.g. more pain with more load)
How does it happen?
Patella tendinopathy tends to occur following training errors such as sudden increases in training frequency, intensity or environment (e.g. more hills). This pain tends to occur weeks or months after the tendon has been exposed to loads that exceed its capacity.
How long will it be like this?
Tendon adaptation to loads takes time and can progress slowly, sometimes taking 6 months or longer. It is important that the tendon is able to go through the stages of rehabilitation described below to ensure a seamless transition back into sports.
What can you do in the short and long term?
This is highly dependent on the stage of tendinopathy and whether the tendon is irritable or non-irritable. An irritable tendon is one in which pain persists over several days or weeks after loading.
Initially, a period of relative rest from aggravating activities is recommended before engaging in a rehabilitation program. You can still continue low-impact activities (e.g. swimming, cycling) that don’t reproduce your knee pain.
There are 4 stages of rehabilitation
Return to sport
How can physiotherapy help?
A physiotherapist is able to diagnose and assess the stage of injury, assist with pain management and address any other concerns. An individualised comprehensive exercise program would then be provided to ensure that you are able to return to your activities with minimal levels of pain.
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