Patellar tendinitis (tendonitis) is an inflammatory injury to the big tendon that connects the shin bone (tibia) to the thigh bone (femur) - in envelops, or wraps around the patella (knee cap).
The patellar tendon is one of the largest tendons in the body and is responsible for extending the lower leg - it’s heavily used during running, kicking and jumping.It’s also commonly known as “jumper’s knee” because it seems to affect athletes who do a lot of jumping in their sport, namely volleyball and basketball players.
All of this being said, patellar tendonitis is just another form of tendonitis in the body - regardless of where it occurs, it’s still the same injury - inflammation of a tendon.
How Does It Happen?
Essentially, tendons become inflamed from overuse.As the tendon is used over and over again, small tears begin to develop.Inflammation occurs as the body attempts to heal the damaged tissue - swelling, pain, redness, warmth are all common signs of inflammation.
But, how does overuse actually lead up to tissue damage?There are a few reasons why this occurs -
Muscle imbalance: If one muscle is much stronger than another near it, it can lead to tracking issues along the tendon - think of it as being pulled off to the side one way or another.This speeds up wear and tear in the tendon
Tight muscles - if the quadriceps muscles are too tight, they’ll exert a lot of pressure on the patellar tendon, further wearing it out.
Rapid changes in direction, or repeated, excessive force on the tendon will lead to injury - think about how soccer players run and change direction rapidly, or how often a basketball player jumps during a game…
Medications - fluoroquinolones are a class of antibiotic drugs that are notorious for causing rapid tendon degeneration and rupture.Avoid these drugs at all costs and speak to your doctor about an alternative if it’s absolutely necessary to take antibiotics!
Inflammation vs Degeneration
If the inflammation lasts for several weeks, it begins to actually break down the tendon tissue - this is known as tendinosis and requires a different treatment approach.
In short, tendinitis is inflammatory, while tendinosis is is degenerative. You can read more aboutthese differences and treatment modalities here.
What Does It Feel Like?
Patellar tendonitis is tough to miss!It may start as an off again, on again sensation of tenderness that is burning-like at the bottom of the kneecap. Eventually the pain will become constant, and very noticeable with squatting, traveling up and down stairs, and during sports activities.
Be careful!Masking the pain of tendonitis with drugs like ibuprofen and continuing to play is a great way to eventually tear the tendon, badly. Also, with more movement many types of tendonitis feel a bit better, but then feel even worse following activity.
Here’s What We Suggest:
REST.Yes, it’s a four-letter word to any active person. But, taking the time to rest now will save weeks and months of prolonged injury and aggravation.Resting and allowing the body time to heal allows for the immediate injury (tendonitis) to heal rapidly.Continuing activity on an injury, while simultaneously trying to heal it will just drag things out. The longer one has an injury, the longer it takes to heal.
In cases of patellar tendonitis, working with a physical therapist is a good idea to explore any underlying causes of the injury - specifically over-tight muscles or muscular imbalances.Stretching and strengthening need to be a part of recovery and prevention going forward.
AVOID the conventional advice to take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, etc.While they can relieve pain, they do nothing to speed healing and actually inhibit the repair of collagen, which is the main protein tendons are made from.
AVOID icing the injury too. This is outdated advice and also will not speed up healing.
Here are three natural medicines that can enhance the healing of patellar tendonitis:
Inflammation Relief speeds healing by breaking down pain-generating chemicals and improves oxygen and nutrient delivery to injured tissues.
Ligament Restore provides the injured tendon with the nutrients it needs to heal and repair itself. It also contains pain-relieving botanical medicines.
Curcumin Relief - Made of a highly absorbable form of turmeric, Curcumin Relief is one of the strongest natural anti-inflammatories known!
Following these steps will allow patellar tendonitis to heal rapidly, within about 4-6 weeks.Remember, prolonged inflammation (tendonitis) leads to degeneration of the tendon (tendinosis) and that’s a several months-long healing process.