What Is Jumper’s Knee?
Jumper’s Knee, medically referred to as Patellar tendinopathy or Patellar tendonitis, is a widespread and potentially dangerous condition affecting the knee joint’s patellar tendon. Starting from the quadriceps muscle (located at the front of the thigh), the patellar tendon extends in a downward direction, connecting the rear of the patella (kneecap) and the frontal part of the tibia (shin bone). During the contraction phase of the quadriceps muscles, the tendon is pulled and the leg straightens. This process allows everyday motions such as kicking, running or walking. Any impairment to the patella (such as tiny tears) to the extent that the victim finds difficulty in performing any range of motion with the knees, let alone engage in a demanding sport, is termed Jumper’s Knee.
Jumper’s knee is prevalent in athletes who engage in sports that require rapid jumping or stopping at increased speeds. Jumper’s knee is more common in men athletes than female.
What are the risk factors?
Athletes and workout warriors have a higher probability of developing Jumper’s Knee because they regularly put their knees through strenuous workouts. Other risk factors also contribute to the possibility of developing Jumper’s Knees including:
- Insufficient training or preparation. Athletes who do not take the requisite time to work their way up to strenuous exercise put themselves in a position to injure their knees. Experts recommend an adequate warm-up regimen before partaking in arduous workouts, in order to condition the knees to deal with shocks and impacts.
- Excess weight. Overweight individuals put more pressure on their knees than those who are not overweight. It is important to maintain a healthy body weight to reduce the pressure and impact on the patellar tendon during strenuous sporting activity.
- Previous injury. When an individual does not allow the patellar tendon to properly heal after a previous episode of Jumper’s knees or other injury, it increases the likelihood of developing the condition again. If this is the case, there is a higher chance that the new damage to the patellar tendon may be more severe.
Signs and Symptoms
Individuals experiencing Jumper’s Knee (Patella tendinopathy) note the following signs/symptoms:
- Pain and tenderness emanating directly from the patellar tendon (or more specifically, around, behind and/or over the kneecap)
- Experiencing stiffness or swelling of the knee, particularly during intensive tasks such as jumping, kneeling, squatting, sitting, or climbing stairs
- Experiencing pain when bending the knee (or from activities such as jumping, running or walking)
- Experiencing pain in the muscles of the quadriceps
- A weakness in the leg or calf
There are several treatment options open to you, including. a combination of one or more of the following:
- Taking a break from intensive activity or adopting a training schedule that greatly reduces any jumping or impact activity
- Icing the knee to reduce pain and inflammation
- Wearing a knee support or strap (also referred to as an intrapatellar strap or a Chopat strap) to help support the knee and patella and keep them stable. The strap is worn over the patellar tendon, just beneath the kneecap.
- Elevating the knee when it hurts: including, for example. placing a pillow below the kneecap when lying down or sitting
- Taking anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or other NSAIDs. This typically helps to reduce pain and any associated swelling
- Undergoing massage therapy
- Engaging in minimum/low-impact exercises to help strengthen the knee
- Undergoing physical therapy or rehabilitation programs that focus on muscle and knee stabilization exercises
- Receiving specialized injections to numb the nerve endings in affected areas and reduce inflammation
Surgical Treatment for Jumper’s Knee
If the injury is severe and noninvasive treatments have proven ineffective, a physician may recommend surgery to help mitigate the condition. Some of the most common surgeries for jumper’s knee are:
- Arthroscopic debridement. A small camera and several surgical tools are inserted into the knee joint and used to remove damaged tissue.
- Arthroscopic resection of the inferior aspect of the patella. This method can be used to remove or realign any damaged piece of the inferior aspect of the patella that may be putting unwanted stress on the patellar tendon.
If you believe you may have sustained an injury to your patellar tendon, you should always cease athletic exertion until a medical evaluation can be completed.