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Patellar Tendonitis: Treatment & Recovery

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
This lesson goes over the numerous different types of treatment options for patellar tendonitis. You'll learn about the major conservative management techniques and about other techniques, including surgery.

Patellar Tendonitis

Can you locate your patella, or kneecap? It's that round and bony projection at the very front of your knee. Now extend your knee. Can you feel a strong and thick band of tissue running from the bottom pole of the kneecap to the top of the shin bone? That's the patellar tendon, also called the patellar ligament. It can become inflamed and painful; this is known as patellar tendonitis (or tendinitis). Tendonitis refers to the inflammation (-itis) of a tendon.

Let's learn a bit more about how this condition is treated in this lesson.

Conservative Therapies

In most cases, people with patellar tendonitis will not need any surgery. A non-surgical treatment regimen may consist of a combination of the following examples:

  • Stretching. This will require stretching the muscles around the knee such as the hamstrings, calf muscles, and quads.
  • Strength training. This may utilize exercises such as a one-legged squat.
  • Cryotherapy, or cold temperature therapy. This can involve applying ice for 20-30 minutes, 4-6 times a day after performing an activity.
  • Pain relief using over-the -counter pain relievers such as Advil or Aleve.
  • Activity restriction. This doesn't mean not doing any exercise, it means restricting the activities that may exacerbate patellar tendonitis, such as jumping.
  • Using a patellar tendon strap, which may help relieve pain.

The patella and patellar tendon (ligament) can be seen in this image.
an anatomical drawing of the knee

Other Treatments & Recovery

If the therapies above fail to help a person with patellar tendonitis, then a doctor may switch to other techniques. This can include the injection of corticosteroids. While corticosteroids reduce inflammation and pain, they also have the effect of potentially weakening the tendon and predisposing it to future rupture.

Another option may be surgery. There is more than one possible surgical technique used for this condition. Some advocate drilling into the patella. This should, in theory, increase the blood supply to the area, improving healing and alleviating pain. Another option involves removing the tendon, part of the patella, or both.

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