Jumper’s knee is also known as patellar tendonitis. It affects the patellar tendon, which is directly below the kneecap (it actually attaches the knee cap to the tibia). This condition is more prevalent with plyometric (jumping sequences) training or sports that require sudden stops or changes of direction. However, I have seen cases where it simply occurs with normal training.
- In the early stage of this condition frequent stretching of the quadriceps muscle will accelerate healing. Hold the stretch for thirty seconds and repeat three times, perform this routine three times per day.
- Hamstring and calf stretches may also help reduce strain on the patella tendon.
- A patellar tendon strap provides a compressive force across the patellar tendon and for some people provides quite a bit of relief. If this is going to work for you, you should notice a distinct improvement while wearing it. Only wear it when doing activities that typically aggravate your symptoms. If you wear it all day long it will become irritating.
- An anti-inflammatory should be used to reduce the pain and inflammation. Topical anti-inflammatories would be best but would require a visit to your doctor for a prescription.
- Physical therapists can apply a treatment called iontophoresis, which is the use of an electrical current to apply a steroid medication over the sore spot. Research has shown that this treatment delivers as much steroid (anti-inflammatory) to the tendon as an injection, without a needle. Usually, two to three treatments will improve symptoms substantially.
- Deep tissue friction massage can also be helpful in stubborn cases.
- Eccentric quadriceps strengthening has been shown to reverse the structural changes in the patellar tendon if the condition becomes chronic. This exercise is performed with a knee extension resistance machine. The emphasis is on lowering the knee from a straight position, to a bent position. Use both legs to straighten the knee and then lower with the painful one. Repeat for 30 repetitions and gradually increase the weight as your pain improves. This exercise is painful, but if the condition is chronic and not responding to anything else, stick with it for at least three weeks (three times per week) and continue for another six weeks if it helps.