EXPERIENCING KNEE PAIN? HERE'S WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT PATELLAR TENDIOPATHY
It doesn’t matter what your level of physical activity is, knee pain can affect a person’s daily routine and is oftentimes debilitating. Although the knee appears to be a simple hinge joint (i.e. bending and straightening your leg), there’s actually a rotational component to your knee and various intricate articular and ligamentous structures. As a result of its position between the multi-planar ankle and hip joint, the knee is highly susceptible to injuries if either of these two joints moves too much, too little or suffer from muscular imbalances. Continue reading to learn more about the causes of this type of pain and how to avoid it.
What is Patellar Tendinopathy?
For those who don’t know, the patellar tendon is a thick fibrous band of tissue connecting the kneecap to the shin bone and plays a pivotal role in helping the quadriceps muscles to extend the knee. Patellar tendinopathy, also known as jumper’s knee, is a condition causing the patellar tendon to become irritated. It is a common injury seen in athletes that participate in powerful and explosive movements such as volleyball and basketball, but it’s also seen in older patients as a result of repeated microtrauma (overuse). If left untreated, patellar tendinopathy can lead to inflammation or degeneration of the tendon.
Symptoms of Patellar Tendinopathy
The symptoms of patellar tendinopathy usually consist of pain localized in the front of the knee and just below the kneecap. Recent studies have found that changes in mechanical properties of the patellar tendon are associated with pain as well as an inability to tolerate and manage external forces or loads. This decreased strain of the tendon can also decrease the overall extensibility of the tendon resulting in increased stiffness (see references below).
Exercises to Try
Although there are several techniques used to address knee pain, most of them yield temporary or minimal relief. Recent evidence suggests rehabilitative exercises provide a more functional and effective approach to treatment with improved long-term outcomes (see references below). At CORE Physical Therapy, we will observe the pain you’re experiencing and create a custom rehab program for you, which could potentially include the following types of exercises:
Isometric exercises are strengthening exercises where the joint angle or muscle length does not change during contraction. In a study conducted in 2016, researchers found 5 repetitions of 45 second holds on the leg extension elicited pain relief. These patients used loads consisting of about 80% of their 1 repetition maximum at a knee angle of 60 degrees (see references below).
Muscles mainly consist of either shortening (concentric) or lengthening (eccentric) of the muscle fibers. Eccentric exercises primarily focus on the lengthening phase of a movement or exercise. For example, when performing a bicep curl, as you bring your arm up this is the concentric phase, and as you lower your arm down, this is the eccentric phase. Eccentric exercises are generally most important for slowing down a movement or decelerating (braking).
Finding Relief with CORE Physical Therapy
From athletes to weekend warriors and everyone in between, knee pain such as patellar tendinopathy can be not only annoying but debilitating as well. Although there is no clear-cut gold standard for treating or diagnosing patellar tendinopathy, current research suggests that exercise and a consistent rehabilitative program yields the best results. If you suspect you are suffering from patellar tendinopathy, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with CORE Physical Therapy for a free consultation. We’ll help you get to a better you.