The patellar tendon, like other tendons in the body, attaches muscles to bone. In particular, the patellar tendon goes over the kneecap and works with your quadriceps (thigh muscles) to straighten your leg. Pain in the tendons of the knee is typically felt at the front of the knee. Knee tendon pain is most common in active individuals who participate in sports, though any repetitive use of the knee may cause knee tendon pain.
Causes of Knee Tendon Pain
Knee Tendonitis - When the patellar tendon becomes inflamed, this is known as tendonitis in the knee (or tendinitis). It is also known as patellar tendonitis or Jumper's knee. The reason for calling it jumper's knee is that it is often seen in athletes who participate in sports with repetitive jumping, such as basketball. However, tendonitis of the knee is not limited to jumpers... running and any other repetitive knee movements may also cause knee tendonitis. When tendonitis of the knee becomes chronic (reoccurring), this is known as patellar tendinosis.
Patellar Tendon Tear - Partial or full tendon tears may occur when trauma occurs to the knee joint. Tears are almost always accompanied by knee tendon pain and full tears may also prevent a patient from straightening the leg. Tendons of the knee may also tear from chronic knee tendonitis, which weakens the area.
Diagnosing Knee Tendon Pain
Your doctor will evaluate your knee to determine if there is a tendon injury in your knee. As mentioned before, knee tendon injuries may cause the patient to have difficulty straightening the knee without pain and the pain is usually felt at the front of the knee.
Be sure to let your doctor know about any activities you are involved in or specific incidences of impact that may have occurred recently. Repetitive use injuries with sore knee tendons may indicate knee tendonitis. Impact injuries may indicate a knee tendon tear. Your doctor may order an X-ray which will allow the radiologist to evaluate the position of the patella (knee cap). If the patella is higher than normal, it may indicate that there is a patellar tendon tear.
Treatment for Knee Tendon Pain
Treatment for knee tendon pain varies depending on the severity of your knee tendon injury.
Treatment for Tendonitis in Knee If your knee tendon pain is caused by inflammation, the first thing to do is to protect the area by resting. NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and aspirin are over-the-counter and may help alleviate inflammation. Some patients also find relief from icing the area. By far one of the best treatments for knee tendonitis is with a physical therapist, who can work with the patient to strengthen the muscles around the knee tendon. In very rare cases of chronic knee tendonitis, surgery may be required to repair a damaged tendon.
Treatment for Knee Tendon Tear - Surgery is almost always required for a full tear of the patellar tendon, as the patient may have difficulty walking without usage of this area. A partial tear may be able to recover if the patient is careful. The use of a cast or patella stabilizer knee brace may be suggested from your doctor. In both full and partial knee tendon tears, a physical therapist helps by showing you knee exercises to rehabilitate the area through strengthening the muscles around the knee tendon injury.
If you are experiencing pain in the tendons of the knee, then see your doctor to assess your tendon injury and to receive the best treatment for your knee tendon pain.