Patella Tendinopathy and Injuries

The basic function of the patella tendon is to transfer force of the quadriceps muscles; which causes the extension of the knee. The quadricepses are the muscles that are most active during the running and kicking of the ball in football.

Patella Tendinopathy is degeneration of the tendon (tendonsis). A breakdown of the tendon is characterized by focal lesions which are small and do not have an inflammatory response. Degeneration is when the tendon isn’t processing its normal tensile strength and could rupture if you continue with sporting activities. Patella Tendinopathy is also associated with aging. Some contributing factors are; joint stiffness, muscle tightness, muscle weakness, poor pelvic stability, inappropriate or excessive training, inadequate warm up and inappropriate footwear.

Some of the signs and symptoms of patella Tendinopathy are coming on gradually: pain in the tendon, worsened by activity, focal areas are tender, tendon is very stiff first thing in the morning, and the tendon may appear thickened in comparison to an unaffected area, the pain will be in the front of the knee, just below the kneecap. It commonly occurs from too much activity, repetitive or prolonged strain on the tendon. For less severe cases, you may only notice an ache or stiffness in your knee that worsens with rest following any activity that requires strong or repetitive contractions of the quadriceps muscles. Some of these activities include hopping, squatting, jumping, kicking, or climbing stairs.

The treatment for Patella Tendinopathy varies from case to case but includes ice for analgesia (do not put directly on the skin), rest from any sporting activities for at least three months, eccentric muscle work; referring to a muscle which is lengthening while contracting. In persistent cases, they will recommend an injection of Aprotinin. If the condition has not gotten better within a six-month period, your doctor may discuss surgery with you. Use surgery only as a last resort because even that is not going to be 100% effective. Treatment may comprise of soft tissue massage, ultrasound, stretches, use of crutches, joint mobilization, exercises, and education. Rehabilitation will be necessary after surgery and may take many months to accomplish.

There are rules to prevent Patella Tendinopathy so follow these: the intensity, frequency, and duration of training have to be carefully monitored with only gradual progression. Any sudden increases should be avoided. Flexibility and muscle strength has to be maintained with regular strengthening sessions. You have to wear the correct footwear and make sure that the surface is appropriate with the sport you are practicing.

If you begin having aches and pains in the knee area as described above, please make sure you visit your doctor and have some testing done. The sooner you are diagnosed and start treatment or rehabilitation the quicker you will be able to heal and resume normal activity.