What Is Jumper’s Knee?

Athletes competing in sports like soccer, basketball, and volleyball are at higher risk for patellar tendinitis, commonly known as jumper’s knee. We explain how this injury is caused and the treatment options available.

We all depend on the tendon that connects our kneecap and shinbone; it works with our thigh muscles to help us extend our knee so that we can walk, run, kick, and jump. When we overuse our knee, repeated stress can cause tiny tears in the tendon. Over time, if these tears multiply without sufficient time to heal, scar tissue forms in the tendon and begins to cause pain.

Although anyone can develop jumper’s knee, athletes who do a lot of running and jumping are particularly vulnerable. Damage to the patellar tendon may be caused by an acute (or sudden) tear in tendon tissue, or by repeated stress to the tendon over time. Some patellar tendon pain resolves on its own with rest and time, but when the pain persists for more than a few weeks, it may be a symptom indicating jumper’s knee. Here’s what to watch for:

  • Pain that is localized at the bottom front of the kneecap. The bottom of the patella may be very tender when pressed, and may appear larger or thicker than usual.
  • Pain that occurs as you begin physical activity, or pain you feel just after an intense workout.
  • Knee pain that gets worse until it interferes with your ability to play your sport or do a favorite activity.
  • Recurring pain, including aching and stiffness, that increases until it is difficult to perform daily movements such as stair climbing or rising from a chair.
  • Swelling or redness around the knee; this tenderness is sometimes present with jumper’s knee.

When your knee hurts, ignoring the pain and continuing your activity can cause the tears in the patellar tendon to become larger and could result in chronic pain that is difficult to treat. Toughing it out through the pain does not do your knee any favors. It’s better to respect your body’s warning signals and stop activity when you hurt. You can treat knee pain at home with ice and rest, but if the pain continues, gets worse, and begins to interfere with your daily activities, it’s time to call a Summit Orthopedics sports medicine specialist.

If a careful evaluation and diagnosis identifies jumper’s knee as the problem, there are a number of conservative treatments available, including physical therapy and medications. Our Summit sports medicine team is here with the therapy options you need to design a treatment plan that will help to resolve your knee pain and return you to the activities you enjoy.

Sports medicine: Expert bone, joint, and muscle care

From Olympians to pro athletes to youth sports and those that just want to be more active – Summit Orthopedics delivers expert care by fellowship-trained sports medicine physicians. If you are recently injured or concerned about ongoing pain, Summit Orthopedics sports medicine specialists have the expertise to evaluate your discomfort and develop a plan to quickly and safely help you get back to being active.

Start your journey to a more active self: Find your sports medicine expert, request an appointment online, or call us at 651-968-5201 to schedule a sports medicine consultation.

Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and Western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as several additional community clinics.

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