What is Jumpers Knee ?
Patellar tendon is an anterior ligament that connects patella to tibia (shin bone). It plays a great role in the flexible leg movement i.e. kicking the ball, running uphill, jumping in the air, etc. The jumpers knee is caused due to the damage, inflammation or injury to the tendon due to repetitive activities. It usually affects individuals who are actively involved in jumping sports. That’s the reason the term “jumpers knee” is used to refer the condition. However, the medical term of this condition is patellar tendonitis.
Patellar tendonitis is complicated and chronic problem which requires considerable amount of rest. It is overuse injury that is caused due to repetitive strain. If the case is severe, doctors may perform surgery. Individuals involved in basketball and volleyball are most vulnerable to jumpers knee, even though it also causes in runners and other athletes.
What are Jumpers Knee’s Symptoms?
The primary symptom of jumpers knee is pain just below knee cap. The patient will feel extreme pain when pressure goes through tendon. Knee stiffness is also experienced especially during morning. Due to inflammation, the tendon will become thick which results in difficulty in performing daily tasks such as climbing stairs, kneeling, getting up from the chair, etc. Redness, warmth and tenderness will also be felt on the affected part of the knee.
However, if you are feeling extreme pain followed with swelling and redness in the joint, then immediately consult your doctor. The onset of the pain is usually gradual and escalates according to increase in sporting activity. Sometimes, jumpers knee is misdiagnosed as runners knee, chondromalacia patella and Osgood Schlatter disease.
Jumpers knee is categorized into 4 grades of injury:
Grade 1: Pain only after training
Grade 2: Pain before & after training but pain eases once warmed-up
Grade 3: Pain during training which limits your performance
Grade 4: Pain during every day activities
What are Jumpers Knee’s Causes?
Jumpers knee is actually overuse injury, which occurs due to repeated stress and irritation on patellar tendon due to jumping, kicking, running, landing and squatting. The extreme stress results in minor tears in tendon and causes inflammation. This results weakness in the patellar tendon.
The jumpers knee is triggered due to training errors such as sudden increment in the intensity, duration and frequency of training or workouts. Even playing vigorous sports on hard surface also develop the condition of patellar tendonitis. Sometimes, tight hamstring as well as quadriceps muscles are also causes of jumpers knee.
Diagnosis of Jumpers Knee:
A thorough physical test along with medical history is sufficient to identify patellar tendonitis. Sometimes, doctor may perform Ultrasound and MRI to accurately diagnoses the severity of condition. These tests also discard any other possibilities or conditions accurately.
Treatment of Jumpers Knee:
The treatment for jumpers knee is initiated once the diagnosis is confirmed by the doctor. Some of the treatments may include:
- Using the precious P.R.I.C.E. formula.
- Protect: The first principle in Price formula is to protect the affected area from further injuries or damage.
- Rest: Resting the knee is the key ingredient of recovery process. Avoiding aggravating activities and resting allows the injury to settle down naturally for other treatments.
- Ice: Icing the affected area will help to limit the inflammation and reduces swelling. Applying ice packs every couple of hours for 10-20 minutes will minimize the pain.
- Compression: Compression wrap such as elastic or ace bandage can be applied to the affected area to minimize the pain.
- Elevate: Elevation ensures that the amount of blood flow is reduced to the swollen area.
- Knee Straps: These straps help reduce the pressure and stress directly falling on the patellar tendon. Many patients have found significant or complete relief using the knee straps. Other than knee straps, support strap, infrapatellar strap, Chopat strap, knee brace and custom orthotics also serves well.
- Stretching: Stretching the quadriceps, hamstring, and calf muscles once the symptoms alleviate helps in quick recovery. Even after recovering from the condition, stretching will eradicate the possibilities of recurrence of the condition.
- Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) such as Ibuprofen, Motrin, Naprosyn, Celebrex, etc will also decrease the swelling, tenderness and swelling. However, consult your doctor before diagnosing any medications.
- Physical Therapy: Physiotherapy treatment stimulate the healing process, which includes soft tissue massage, electrotherapy, ice treatment, heat treatment, taping, bracing, stretches, etc.
- Eccentric Strengthening Exercises: If the condition is becoming severe or chronic and no other treatment are helpful, then eccentric strengthening exercises are most effective in preventing and treating injuries. According to research studies, eccentric exercises are most helpful therapeutic exercises for treatment of patellar tendonitis.
- Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Injections: This injection will heal the injury by restoring degenerated tissues because the growth factors are taken from the own blood platelets of the patient.
- Corticosteroid injection: When other treatments are not providing relief to the patient , then corticosteroid injection are used to improve the condition.
- Surgery: Surgery is usually performed after all the other treatments fails to provide relief to the patient and even, if the problem has become chronic and persistent. Doctor may conduct MRI to check whether the tendon is damaged or not. If confirmed, doctors may remove the tendon or degenerative tissue. However, surgery are performed very rarely.
The jumpers knee or patellar tendonitis usually takes 3-12 months for complete healing depending on the severity of the condition. Physiotherapy is the key component in hastening the recovery process.
Temporarily reduce or avoid activities that trigger your symptoms. Modification of activities are also important for prevention. If the problem persists, physiotherapy should be go-to treatment from early stages. Always visit your physical therapist, when pain recur.
Conclusion – Jumpers Knee:
The outlook is good and you will feel significant relief from jumpers knee. However, ensure you try to avoid aggravating activities.