Patellar Tendinopathy

Patellar tendinopathy is also known as Jumper's Knee and often affects track athletes and other sports participants who overdo or incorrectly perform their training. The patellar tendon is a band of thick tissue beneath the kneecap, important to the stable functioning of the quadriceps and safe distribution of force (in jumping, landing, kicking, etc).


The condition generally develops incrementally, with pain below the kneecap worsening over time. This pain will be increased during activity, and any training involving force to the knees or quadriceps is eventually liable to feel impossible without severe pain as the injury progresses. The affected area may be prone to tenderness, and generally feels rigid and unmoveable upon waking in the morning. The injured leg can also seem wider or bloated in contrast with the unaffected leg.

It is crucial to recognise the symptoms early, as prolonged training using the injured leg will result in a more serious form of the injury.


Physical exertion involved in activities like jumping, running and kicking all apply great strain to the patellar tendon, which bears much of the force of the quadriceps muscles when the leg is extended. Sports typically associated with the injury include football, sprinting and long jumping. Any activity incorporating forceful landings also carries a risk due to the intense force this creates. Gradually the tendon can be worn down through frequent strain, often as a result of overuse. Exercising with weakened or fatigued muscles, a lack of warming up, or beginning a strenuous training program after a period of inactivity can all contribute to the tendon's degeneration.

Sometimes this damage can initially appear minuscule, but this is typical, and continuation of the offending activities can lead to tendinopathy regardless. Another common factor is age, as our healing processes decrease in effectiveness over the years. It is worth noting that patellar tendonitis is a similar but rarer condition characterised by simple inflammation of the tendon.


See a doctor as soon as you suspect the injury or note any of the aforementioned symptoms. This will help to ensure a speedy recovery, as leaving the tendon untreated risks exacerbating the condition and an early diagnosis reduces healing time. They may recommend implementing a patellar tendon strap. Suitable icing of the injured area a few times per day can also help to relieve pain and swelling.

The key to successful rehabilitation is generally resting from strenuous activity for approximately three to six months. In this time the tissue will be able to regenerate, and supplementary medication or other treatment might be prescribed to assist the process. In order to maintain fitness and combat stiffness in the leg, try gentle exercises with the approval of a physical therapist. A non-impact sport such as swimming can be useful as it is unlikely to affect the injury. In severe cases, surgery may eventually be required.


Do not return to any activity involving the knee without consulting a doctor. When recovered, adjust your training program to incorporate suitable periods of rest. Decrease the possibility of extreme pressure on the tendon by exercising responsibly and not excessively.

© Medic8® | All Rights Reserved