Jumper’s Knee – Causes and Treatment

Jumper's knee causes severe pain in the front of the knee. Therapies that focus on loosening the soft tissues and stretching the quadriceps can help reduce stress on the patellar tendon and reduce pain associated with this condition.

What is this?

Patellar tendinopathy, also known as jumper's knee, is a relatively common condition that causes pain in the front of the knee. This pain is usually intense and occurs when the extensor mechanism is overloaded. The extensor mechanism involves the quadriceps, patella, and patellar tendon, connecting the quadriceps to the patella (patella) and then to the tibia (shin bone) via the patellar tendon.

Patellar tendinopathy begins to pull on the patellar tendon, which attaches to the lower pole of the kneecap, causing the tendon to tear or degenerate.

What triggered it?

Jumper's knee is an overuse injury resulting from repetitive overloading of the knee extensor mechanism. Microtears in the patellar tendon usually exceed the body's ability to heal the area unless the aggravating activity is stopped for a period of time. Jumper's knee occurs in many types of athletes, but it is most common in athletes who participate in sports such as high jump, long jump, throwing, basketball, volleyball, or soccer, all of which require jumping or explosive movements.

Eccentric loading is when a muscle contracts while extended and occurs when a jump drops or slows down. In fact, soccer players carry up to seven times their body weight on their knees while kicking a ball, while netball and volleyball players place between nine and 11 times their body weight on their knees. These eccentric loads are probably the main cause of knee overload in jumpers.

Differential diagnosis: what else?

There are several knee conditions with symptoms similar to jumper's knee, and therefore it is advisable to see a specialist, such as a licensed sports therapist or physical therapist trained in a wide range of sports injuries. A differential diagnosis checklist may include the following:

How should it be treated?

A good therapist will understand that athletes and athletic men and women don't want to stop training; they will want to do something to stay fit and competitive if possible. Jumper Knee is a disease that must be respected. Jumper knee rarely gets better unless you stop training or at least stop the type of training that caused the injury in the first place. Be sure to continue with various forms of exercise that do not overload the extensor mechanism, but continuing to train with pain can lead to serious injury that may require surgical intervention.

Textbooks often describe jumper's knee as inflammation of the patellar tendon, and RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) therapy may be recommended as a treatment, but it is not yet known whether the inflammation is present in the tendon. injuries. For this reason, more recent texts refer to these injuries as tendinopathy (a pathological condition), rather than some older texts using tendinitis ("inflammation" means inflammation), but use the RICE formula when dealing with Jumpers Knee would not be wrong. too early stage.

Over time, if the condition shows signs of improvement, gentle stretching of the quadriceps will help realign the new collagen fibers that are repairing the tendon into a more linear structure. fix. Light strength training can also be introduced to emphasize new fibers and begin to strengthen the quadriceps muscles. Care must be taken at this stage not to reinjure the tendon by doing it too soon.

Again, rehabilitation should be gradual until movement can resume. Guidance from a registered sports therapist can be helpful throughout the injury process, but especially at this stage when sport-specific training is required to ensure that the injury can again withstand sport-specific training and competition.

Author's Opinion

Sports therapists and physical therapists encounter this injury numerous times, so caution should be exercised in the treatment options recommended above.

Due to poor vascularity, tendons heal more slowly than muscles (blood flow) through the tendon. Various treatment modalities have been tried to improve repair rates, including ultrasound, interference, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), corticosteroid injections, shock wave therapy, sclerotherapy, nitric oxide patches, surgery, growth factors and stem cells. p>

Because the tendon injury appears to have little or no inflammation, many of the above treatments have proven ineffective.

The body has the ability to heal itself for the most part, so the key to effective treatment of jumper's knee at this time is to help the body heal itself gradually. Understanding how the body heals and assisting in the healing process seems to be the way to go.