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TEXT: (908) 224-4639
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Patellar Tendonitis

Patellar tendonitis, also known as jumper’s knee or patellar tendinopathy, is a condition characterized by inflammation, irritation, and degeneration of the patellar tendon. The patellar tendon connects the patella (kneecap) to the tibia (shin bone) and plays a vital role in transmitting forces from the quadriceps muscles to the lower leg during activities like jumping, running, and kicking. Patellar tendonitis is a common overuse injury often seen in athletes, especially those involved in sports that require repetitive jumping and high-impact movements.

The primary cause of patellar tendonitis is repeated stress and strain on the patellar tendon due to excessive or repetitive activities but other contributing factors include:

  • Overuse: Engaging in activities that involve frequent or rapid changes in direction without adequate rest can lead to tendon overuse and subsequent inflammation.
  • Muscular Imbalance: Weakness or imbalance in the quadriceps and hamstring muscles can place additional stress on the patellar tendon.
  • Training Errors: Sudden increases in training intensity, duration, or frequency without proper conditioning can increase the risk of tendonitis.
  • Improper Biomechanics: Faulty movement patterns, such as poor landing techniques or incorrect body mechanics during jumping and running, can contribute to tendon stress.
  • Age & Activity Level: Patellar tendonitis is more common in younger individuals who are actively participating in sports.

The signs and symptoms of a patellar tendon tear, which involves the partial or complete rupture of the tendon that connects the patella (kneecap) to the tibia (shin bone), can be significant and can impact the function of the knee joint.

Here are the common signs and symptoms associated with a patellar tendon tear:

  • Sudden, Severe Pain: The onset of pain is usually abrupt and intense. The pain is typically felt at the front of the knee, where the patellar tendon is located.
  • Inability to Straighten the Knee: One of the key symptoms is the inability to fully straighten the knee or extend the leg. This is due to the disruption of the connection between the patella and the tibia.
  • Audible “Pop”: Some individuals report hearing an audible “pop” or snapping sound at the time of the injury, which may indicate the moment the tendon tears.
  • Swelling & Bruising: Swelling around the front of the knee can occur rapidly after the injury. Additionally, bruising may develop due to bleeding within the knee tissues.
  • Difficulty Walking & Bearing Weight: Walking & putting weight on the affected leg becomes challenging & painful due to the instability caused by the torn patellar tendon.
  • Visible Gap or Depression: In cases of complete tears, a noticeable gap or depression may appear above the patella where the tendon has separated.
  • Muscle Weakness: The strength of the quadriceps muscle group, which is connected to the patellar tendon, may be significantly reduced.
  • Kneecap Displacement: The kneecap (patella) might move abnormally or shift downward due to the lack of attachment with the patellar tendon.
  • Limited Mobility: The range of motion of the knee joint is often compromised, especially in terms of bending & straightening the leg.
  • Discomfort or Sensation of “Empty Knee”: Some individuals describe a feeling of hollowness or “empty knee” due to the absence of tendon support.

It’s important to note that the severity of symptoms can vary based on the extent of the tear and whether it’s a partial or a complete tear. A complete tear is generally associated with more pronounced symptoms and functional limitations.

If you suspect a patellar tendon tear or experience any of the above symptoms, schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic surgeons here or you can call our main office at: (908) 486-1111.