Patella Tendinopathy

What is Patella Tendinopathy?
Patella Tendinopathy, commonly known as ‘jumper’s knee’ is a common overuse injury in long distance runners – particularly in women. It is characterised by pain and discomfort in the patella tendon. The role of the patella tendon is to transfer the force of the quadriceps muscle (like a pulley) as your knee straightens. The greatest level of stress at the patella tendon occurs on activities such as jumping and landing activities – as the quads produce an explosive muscle contraction during jumping to straighten the knee, and on landing the quads help to absorb landing forces by controlling knee bend. Excessive loading in this way can damage the patella tendon through repetitive microtrauma, which can lead to pain and dysfunction.

Patella tendinopathy typically presents clinically as anterior knee pain, localised to the patella tendon. The onset of pain is usually gradual and commonly related to an increase in sporting activity – for example increased running distance or frequency of training. Pain is commonly aggravated by activities such as jumping, landing, running, walking down stairs or deep squatting, and usually ceases once the load is removed. A range of factors can contribute to patella tendinopathy, including muscle strength imbalance, lower kinetic chain alterations, increased physical load (e.g increase in training), or training errors.

What can we do about it?
Intervention is aimed initially at pain reduction, which can be achieved through load management, although it is important to avoid complete cessation of tendon loading activities, as this can further reduce the load capacity of the tendon. Useful means of load management is to remove high load drills from training, reducing frequency to twice weekly and reducing volume of training, which will help to reduce load on the tendon without resorting to complete rest. This should be accompanied by initiation of a progresive resistance exercise program to target strength deficits – often utilising eccentric, heavy slow resistance, isotonic and isometric exercises before progressing back to normal activity.

About Chapman Physiotherapy

At Chapman Physiotherapy Ltd we pride ourselves on offering a first class physiotherapy service in South Yorkshire. Based in Doncaster, our easily accessible location provides full disabled facilities and appointments are available from early morning to late evening.