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Patellar Tendonitis (Jumper’s Knee)


This is a pain you feel just below your patella (the bone we commonly call the “kneecap”). It’s an injury to your patellar tendon, which connects the bottom of the kneecap to the shinbone.


Patellar Tendonitis (Jumper’s Knee)

Causes & Triggers

You can injure your patellar tendon if you stress it. That can happen if you do a lot of physical activity that involves running or jumping. Other problems, such as tight thigh muscles, tight hamstrings, or a muscle imbalance of the leg can also cause a tendon injury.

  • Overload
  • Overuse
  • Repetitive motion
  • Weak muscles (especially thigh)

Signs & Symptoms

This injury causes pain between your kneecap and your shin. It hurts more with activity. It may hurt so much that it’s hard for you to get up out of a chair or to walk up stairs.

  • Pain
  • Sensation of “giving way”
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Weakness

Tips & Treatment

Treatment options may include rest, ice, medications and physical therapy. You may benefit from a support strap to brace your knee. If these aren’t helpful, you may benefit from injections or from surgery. Your healthcare provider can create a plan that’s right for you.

  • Common to athletes in a variety of sports, but especially those requiring jumping, such as basketball, gymnastics, and track and field.
  • Severity of injury is as follows:
    • Stage 1: Pain with activity, no performance impairment
    • Stage 2: Pain with and after activity
    • Stage 3: Persistent pain with and after activity, some performance impairment
    • Stage 4: Complete tear requiring surgical repair
  • Conservative treatment for early-stage patellar tendonitis includes RICE: rest, ice, compression and elevation.

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