The patellar tendon connects the kneecap to the lower leg bone. Tendinopathy is an injury to the tendon. It can cause pain, swelling, and limited movement. The injury can include:
Treatment depends on the severity of the injury.
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Tendinopathy is generally caused by overuse of a muscle-tendon unit. Over time, the strain on the tendon causes structural changes within the tendon.
Patellar tendinopathy occurs from overuse of the patellar tendon. Overuse may be caused by any activity that requires:
Physically active teenagers and young adults are at higher risk. Factors that increase your chance of developing patellar tendinopathy include:
Symptoms may include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Images may be taken. This can be done with:
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment will depend on the severity of the injury. Options include:
Your knee will need time to heal. RICE is often the main part of treatment:
A strap called a counterforce brace may be advised to help support the tendon and reduce pain.
Over-the-counter or prescription medications may be advised to reduce pain. Cortisone injections may also be used if other treatments do not reduce inflammation.
A physical therapist will assess the knee. An exercise program will be created to help recovery and to strengthen the muscle.
You may need surgery if you have advanced damage to the tendon. Your doctor may also recommend surgery if you have not responded to other treatment methods over a period of several months.
To reduce your chances of getting patellar tendinopathy, take these steps:
The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
OrthoInfo—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
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Last reviewed March 2016 by Laura Lei-Rivera, PT, DPT, GCS
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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