Jumper’s Knee: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

Whether you’re an athlete, have a physically demanding job at school, or just live an active lifestyle, dealing with Patellar Tendonitis can be a serious setback. This form of tendinitis can happen to anyone, but it’s so common among athletes in sports like basketball, volleyball, soccer, and track and field that it’s often referred to as Jumper’s Knee.

The severity of the inflamed or injured patellar tendon will often determine what type of treatment is best and how long it will take for full recovery.

What is Jumper’s Knee?

Jumper’s Knee, AKA patellar tendonitis, is caused by overuse or injury to the patellar (knee) tendon. When you overuse your knee, it can cause tiny tears to form in the patellar tendon, causing jumper’s knee. This injury is more common in sports with a lot of running and jumping, including basketball, volleyball, and track and field.

Jumper’s Knee is graded from 1 to 4 depending on how severe the injury is. Grade 1 means you have some pain when performing an activity, while grade 4 means you have constant pain. Noticing the symptoms and treating the injury early can prevent further damage!

The first picture shows where patellar tendonitis is most likely to occur. If left untreated, patellar tendonitis can lead to a patellar tendon tear where the patella (kneecap) is pulled upward by the quadriceps.

Common Symptoms of Jumper’s Knee

  • Pain beneath your kneecap when moving
  • Swelling
  • Bruising or redness
  • Stiffness of the knee while jumping, kneeling, or squatting
  • Leg or calf weakness
  • Pain when bending the knee

Jumper’s Knee Treatment and Pain Relief

Jumper’s Knee Pain Relief

One of the most common methods to reduce the pain and swelling surrounding the injured area is the R.I.C.E. method. This acronym stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Achieve all four steps by lying down on your back with a Performa Hot & Cold Packs on and elevating your leg with the Rolyan Leg Elevating Splint. The cold pack compresses your knee, while the splint elevates your knee to reduce the blood flow. When you’re not resting, it’s best to wear a brace or strap to compress the area, such as the Cramer Patellar Tendon Strap. Finally, get some pain relief by using a topical pain reliever like Biofreeze. Talk to your doctor for additional advice if needed.

Jumper’s Knee Treatment

If you’re experiencing jumper’s knee symptoms, your first goal should be pain relief. After you’ve followed the R.I.C.E. method mentioned above, you need to take steps to rehabilitate your knee. Avoid jumping, running, and other explosive movements. Rest and gradually start working out again with reduced intensity. Cycling and swimming are low-impact options that are great for rehab. Stop if you feel pain to avoid straining your knee. Seeing a physical therapist can ensure you get the help and guidance you need during recovery to help you avoid surgery.

How long does it take for jumper’s knee to heal?

Again, that depends on the severity of your injury. Most people with mild to moderate tendonitis will see considerable improvement within about six to eight weeks. If you’ve tried conservative treatment for three months without much (or any) improvement, then it may be time to consider surgery. Even after you recover from your initial injury, you might need physical therapy to strengthen your knee so you can reduce your chances of recurrent injury, or chronic jumper’s knee. 

Jumper’s Knee Surgery

If your injury is severe and other treatments have failed, you may be required to have surgery. The procedure consists of the doctor making a longitudinal or transverse incision over the patella tendon and then removing the abnormal tissue. After the surgery, it could take anywhere from 6 to 12 months to fully recover and begin training again. You should check with your doctor before beginning rehab and strengthening exercises after surgery.

Tips to Prevent Jumper’s Knee

  • It’s important to warm up before and cool down after exercising to prevent patellar tendonitis
  • Wear shoes that fit well and support your arch , add orthotics if needed
  • Gradually increase the intensity of your workouts to reduce your risk of injury

Relieve your jumper’s knee pain and get back to enjoying the sport you love!

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