Your patellar tendon plays an important role in the movement of your leg. It works with your muscles to extend your lower leg, allowing you to participate in activities and sports that require this movement. With patellar tendonitis, the tendon and the tissues that surround it, become inflamed and irritated. This is often due to overuse, especially from jumping activities, which is why this condition is often referred to as "jumper's knee."
Pain is the first symptom of patellar tendonitis. The pain usually is located in the section of your patellar tendon between your kneecap and the area where the tendon attaches to your shin. If you apply pressure directly over the inflamed tendon, you will be able to recreate your symptoms. During physical activity, the pain may feel sharp — especially when running or jumping. You may notice that gets worse as you increase the intensity of your activity. After a workout or practice, the pain may continue as a dull ache. Going up and down stairs is often painful.
What you can expect from therapy
Patellar tendonitis can often take weeks to months to resolve. Limiting those activities that further irritate the tendon is essential. Your physical therapist will work with you on issues such as joint and tissue alignment, strength, flexibility and range of motion in order to address underlying causes of the condition itself. In addition, your physical therapist will utilize treatment techniques that decrease pain and inflammation and may recommend a patellar strap or bracing that is designed to redistribute forces at the knee until your body has had time to heal.