Patellar Tendonitis or Inflammation of Tendon| Physiotherapy

Patellar Tendonitis is a common injury that occurs due to overuse of the Patellar tendons that connect the knees with the shin bone. The wear and tear are caused due to several reasons, causing the tendon to swell and causing inflammation, which results in discomfort and pain in the region. Usually, the tendon can heal by itself with time, but continued stress can result in damages that require longer healing periods. Read on to understand more about Patellar tendonitis pain, its causes, symptoms, and various treatment plans for the same.

What is Patellar Tendonitis

Patellar tendonitis is an injury that occurs when there is repeated stress on the knee, in cases such as sports or other medical reasons, where the tendons that connect the kneecap (patella) to the shinbone (tibia) have an inflammation that can range from mild to severe, causing various degrees of discomfort and pain. It occurs in people who engage in sports that involve a lot of stress on the knee, which is often called “jumper's” knee.

Patellar Tendonitis Causes

There are several causes of a patellar tendonitis injury. One of the most common reasons is extreme stress on the knees, which causes the tendons to snap. This can happen due to reasons such as old age, rigorous sports such as basketball, volleyball, etc.

Activities such as intense movements such as running, and sprinting can also cause damage to the tendons in the region. This can occur when there is repeated pressure on the knees. Reasons such as tight thigh muscles, quadriceps, and hamstrings can also increase the risk of an injury in the tendons.

Poor use of footwear, imbalance in weight, and chronic diseases can increase the cause of tendonitis. Other reasons can be playing on hard surfaces, uneven muscle strength, autoimmune diseases, disruption in blood flow, etc.

Patellar Tendonitis Symptoms

Tenderness at the bottom of the kneecap is one of the first symptoms of Patellar Tendonitis. This can be followed by a burning sensation in and around the kneecap region, and swelling in the region. One may find engaging in activities such as bending, squatting, and kneeling difficult and painful. 

The pain can also happen in burst, quick episodes when the knee is under stress. The tendons may recover with sufficient strength, however, if the shock is repetitive, the tendons might be injured. Other symptoms can be difficulty in movement while sitting and getting up, and pain in the knee when weight is shifted between the legs.

Patellar Tendonitis Diagnosis

A diagnosis may be made by the doctor based on a few physical examinations and questions. This can include a physical examination of the knee, trying to identify any tenderness and swelling in the knee region. The doctor may also ask you to perform simple exercises such as stretching your legs, contracting them, trying to shift weight, and gauging the muscle and body reaction.

This is often followed by scans and tests, such as X-rays and MRIs, where the doctor can accurately locate the area of injury and the extent of the injury on the tendons. It can also help ascertain any injury to the knee cap or muscles, depending on the case. Ultrasounds can also be performed to locate any injury to soft tissues in the region. The scans will also help understand the extent of damage to the tendons and ligaments.

How to Treat Patellar Tendonitis

There are several modes of patellar tendonitis treatments, where a diagnosis can help ascertain the severity of damage and the treatment plan. One way of treatment is through medication, where the person is administered anti-inflammatory medication that helps reduce the pain and swelling in the region. This can help if the severity of the injury is mild and with rest and care the tendons can recover.

Other forms of treatment can be applying ice over the region, to prevent the swelling in the region and reduce the possibility of severe injury. Simple exercises such as gentle stretching of the knee, and flexing the legs can also help improve the circulation of blood and reduce swelling. This has to be done in action, as too much stress can result in more injury. Another option is a patellar tendonitis strap that supports the knee. 

Platelet-rich plasma injection can be done in people with chronic patellar tendon problems which promotes new tissue formation and helps heal tendon damage. Surgery may also be performed depending on the extent of the injury.

Physiotherapy for Patellar Tendonitis

Since it is an injury related to the knee region, several physiotherapies can help in addressing the injury. Rest is one of the most common treatments, where the knee is given enough rest for the tendon to recover and heal. This can be achieved by immobilizing the region with braces and engaging in exercises in short bouts, depending on the recovery plan.

Cryotherapy where cold pressure is applied to the region can help reduce the swelling and reduce the extent of the injury. This can also help reduce pain and improve movement. Knee braces are effective in ensuring the movement is limited, allowing the tendons to heal quicker.

Transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TENS) is an effective electrical modality that helps to decrease pain and inflammation. Laser therapy can help accelerate tissue repair and cell growth reduces fibrous tissue formation and increases repair and regeneration. It can also help decrease inflammation and pain.

Stretching is a part of patellar tendonitis exercises and can help reduce muscle spasms and strengthen the tendons. The goal can be to improve the flexibility of the tendons which will help reduce the snapping of it. Balance and proprioception exercises can help increase body balance if the person finds it difficult to walk or stand on their own due to the injury.

Things to Remember for Patellar Tendonitis

  • It is an injury that occurs in the knee region to the tendons that connect the knee to the shin bones
  • It can occur due to severe stress on the knee and the tendons and muscles in the region
  • It can be treated with medication, rest, and strengthening exercise.
  • It is important to not give too much shock to the knees and ensure that there is softening while engaging with blows to the knee due to jumps and fast movements.

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