What is Jumpers Knee?
Jumper Knee (patellar tendinopathy, also known as Patellar tendinitis), is a relatively common cause of pain in the inferior patellar region in athletes. It is common with frequent jumping and studies have shown it may be associated with stiff ankle movement and ankle sprains. The patella tendon / ligament joins the kneecap (patella) to the shin bone or tibia. This tendon is extremely strong and allows the quadriceps muscle group to straighten the leg. The quadricepses actively straighten the knee in jumping to propel the individual off the ground as well as functioning in stabilizing their landing.
As such this tendon comes under a large amount of stress especially in individuals who actively put extra strain on the knee joint such as those who regularly perform sports that involve direction changing and jumping movements. With repeated strain, micro-tears as well as collagen degeneration may occur as a result in the tendon.This is known as patellar tendinopathy or Jumpers Knee. It should be distinguished from patella tendonitis (tendinitis) as this condition indicates an inflammation of the tendon whereas tendinopathy is more about degeneration of the tendon.
Common symptoms of jumper’s knee
- pain directly over the patellar tendon (or more specifically, below the kneecap)
- stiffness of the knee, particularly while jumping, kneeling, squatting, sitting, or climbing stairs
- pain when bending the knee
- pain in the quadriceps muscle
- leg or calf weakness
Less common symptoms
- balance problems
- warmth, tenderness, or swelling around the lower knee
Jumper’s knee is first evaluated by a grading system that measures the extent of the injury (grades range from 1 to 5, with grade 1 being pain only after intense activity and grade 5 being daily constant pain and the inability to participate in any sporting activities). While examining the knee, a doctor or medical professional will ask the patient to run, jump, kneel, or squat to determine the level of pain. In addition, an X-ray or MRI might be recommended. Depending on the grade of the injury, treatment can range from rest and icepacks to surgery. For mild to moderate jumper’s knee, treatment includes:
- resting from activity or adapting a training regimen that greatly reduces any jumping or impact
- icing the knee to reduce pain and inflammation
- wearing a knee support or strap (called an intrapatellar strap or a Chopat strap) to help support the knee and patella. The strap is worn over the patellar tendon, just beneath the kneecap. A knee support or strap can help minimize pain and relieve strain on the patellar tendon.
- elevating the knee when it hurts (for example, placing a pillow under the leg)
- anti-inflammatory medications, like ibuprofen, to minimize pain and swelling
- massage therapy
- minimum-impact exercises to help strengthen the knee
- rehabilitation programs that include muscle strengthening, concentrating on weight-bearing muscle groups like the quadriceps and calf muscles
- specialized injections to desensitize nerve endings and reduce inflammation
Jumpers knee surgery
This is normally advised as a last resort. Surgery either includes excision of the affected area of the tendon or a lateral release where small cuts are made at the sides of the tendon which take the pressure off the middle third or by removing the damaged portion of the patellar tendon, removing inflammatory tissue from the lower area (or bottom pole) of the patella.After surgery, a rehabilitation program involving eccentric strengthening exercises and massage is followed for several months to a year that may help stimulate healing
The best advice that most people can give is for you to rest and slowly build up your muscles again. It may take awhile though. So be patient and it is still best to listen to a Doctor or Specialist on the seriousness of your injury.
However, if you ever thought of running, no one can stop you except for yourself. We all know how stubborn a runner can be. Every Runners will always have that itch to run! But, if you ever thought of running, please take note of how you feel before, during and after the run. And please do a very very slow run and do your own self check again and again.
- If before the run, you feel pain, than do not start at all.
- If during the run, you feel pain, than stop running and just finish of by walking back.
- If after the run, you start feeling the pain, than you may need time to recover. Do not ever think about your next run until there is no pain.
- If you feel ok before, during and after the run, than you may need to take note of the frequency, intensity and duration of your run.
Always start small (low intensity, short distance, short duration) regularly, before you ever think of going faster, further and longer. This is what we called base training. Base training is very important part of your training to strengthen your cardio and muscles. This may also help you to prevent further injury when you start to increase your level of training to improve on your running. Base training may take awhile. Some runners may take a month or even more depending on individual goals.
Do not rush into to exercising, as you could do more damage.
- http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_117344.html (Access 12th August 2012)
- http://ajs.sagepub.com/content/early/2011/09/14/0363546511420552.abstract (Access 12th August 2012)
- http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/bones/jumpers_knee.html (Access 12th August 2012)
- http://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net/sport-injuries/knee-pain/jumpers-knee (Access 14th August 2012)