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Last updated: Oct 6, 2021

Patellar Tendonitis

Tendonitis in the knee is a painful condition that, if caught in time, can be reduced to a simple inconvenience. Untreated, patellar tendonitis can lead to chronic pain and disability. At Redefine Healthcare — with four convenient New Jersey locations in Union, Paterson, Edison, and Clifton — you find specialized patellar tendonitis treatment to reduce your symptoms and ensure a quick recovery. At the first sign of knee pain, call for a consultation to prevent long-lasting repercussions.

Patellar TendonitisMultiple tendons and ligaments support your knee. The patellar tendon keeps your kneecap in place and runs down to your shinbone. The patellar tendon works with the muscles at the front of your thigh and allows you to run, jump, kick and even walk smoothly. It’s very common for athletes to injure or cause a patella tendon tear, especially if you participate in sports, like volleyball or basketball, that require frequent jumping.

This condition is often referred to as jumper’s knee due to the tendon’s repetitive motion. It’s common for individuals not involved in jumping sports to also suffer from patellar tendonitis. The best pain management experts at Redefine Healthcare in northern New Jersey identify the source of your pain with state-of-the-art tools and technology.

Patellar Tendon Tear Symptoms

The primary symptom of patellar tendonitis involves pain. The area between your kneecap and your shinbone radiates discomfort.

Often, the pain begins when you’re engaged in some kind of physical activity, but you may develop continuous pain, even when you’re at rest. Many athletes report that the pain affects their ability to perform. If left untreated or if you’re middle-aged, the pain becomes noticeable when climbing stairs or rising from a chair.

Although rest and ice often help relieve your discomfort, check with the specialists at Redefine Healthcare. You may notice worsening or continued pain over time. Your knee may swell or become continuously reddened. If you find the pain consistently interfering with everyday activities, see your doctor.

Who’s at Risk for Developing Patellar Tendonitis?

While anyone may develop patellar tears that lead to tendonitis, some individuals seem more susceptible to this condition. Any combination of the following increases your chances of needing patellar tendonitis treatment:

  • Tight muscles in the front or back of your thigh
  • Physical activities such as jumping or running
  • Changing your running shoes
  • Suddenly increasing the length of your run
  • Being taller or heavier than the norm
  • Chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, lupus, kidney failure, or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Young, active individuals in their teens, 20s, and 30s who play hard and sometimes push through pain and discomfort
  • Athletes who concentrate on strengthening only specific muscles in their legs, neglecting others, and causing an imbalance

Ignoring your pain or working through it can aggravate patellar tendonitis until it becomes chronic, in the form of patellar tendinopathy. Small patellar tears increase until the tendon separates from the kneecap completely, possibly requiring surgical intervention. If you experience a complete tear, you may hear a popping noise, notice bruising and experience significant pain. You may have difficulty walking or straightening your knee. Pay attention to your body’s signals and take note of your symptoms so you can tell your Redefine Healthcare specialist.

Patellar Tendonitis Treatment

After examining your knee, legs, and gait, your doctor requests imaging tests to diagnose patella tears or tendonitis fully. Unless the tears are extensive, your doctor starts your treatment with the most conservative and non-invasive approaches first and moves to more aggressive treatments as needed. Treatment options include:

  • Rest and activity modification to reduce the cause of patellar tendon tears, giving your body the chance to heal
  • Ice to reduce inflammation and numb pain
  • Medications, such as over-the-counter pain relievers or short-term prescription medication, to control pain symptoms
  • Assistive devices like a knee brace to protect the tendon from further tearing and provide added support, or crutches along with the brace to keep your weight entirely off the affected knee until it heals
  • Physical therapy techniques such as strengthening exercises to adjust any muscle imbalances, stretching exercises to increase flexibility, iontophoresis that pushes topical medication into your skin via electrical stimulation, or a patellar tendon strap that redistributes the forces exerted on the patella tendon and gives it extra support
  • Injections that may include corticosteroids for inflammation, pain-relievers, or platelet-rich plasma to promote the growth of new tissue and accelerate healing
  • Outpatient surgical procedures using an oscillating needle to carefully cut away damaged tissue while preserving the healthy areas of the tendon
  • Surgical options that remove damaged tissue from the tendon and help reduce problematic scarring that binds or aggravates patellar tears

If your tendon tears completely, surgery reattaches it. You can expect about six months of recovery time and physical therapy to strengthen the tendon and surrounding muscles. Treatment for patellar tendonitis proves most effective if administered early and quickly. Contact your Redefine Healthcare specialist about your patellar tendon pain to help get you back to playing the sports you love.

This page was published on Oct 9, 2019, modified on Oct 6, 2021 by Dr. Freeman (Pain Management Specialist) of Redefine Healthcare
Dr. Eric D. Freeman, a highly regarded pain specialist

Dr. Eric D. Freeman, a highly regarded pain specialist in New Jersey, is board-certified and fellowship-trained in Interventional Spine and Pain Management and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. He is an expert in minimally invasive spinal procedures and non-surgical orthopedic care.

Dr. Freeman is a member of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the Interventional Pain Practice Society. In addition, he serves as the Immediate Past President of the New Jersey Society of Interventional Pain Physicians. Dr. Freeman is well-known in the field of pain management as a leading pain management doctor, having been named one of "America's Top Physicians."

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