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Patella Tendinopathy: Known As Jumper’s Knee

Patella Tendinopathy: Known As Jumper’s Knee
Patella Tendinopathy: Known As Jumper's Knee

What Is Jumper’s Knee?

The term jumper’s knee describes an insertional tendinopathy which is a tendon injury or inflammation at the point where the tendon attaches to bone involving the attachment of the kneecap tendon to the lower kneecap pole. The term jumper’s knee refers to a patella tendinopathy where functional stress overload occurs at this point due to jumping and it is frequently experienced on both sides of the body but is also often felt just on the one side.

Why Do People Get Jumpers Knee?

The patella tendon joins the kneecap (patella) to the shin bone (tibia). This tendon is extremely strong and allows your quadriceps muscles to contract to straighten the leg. When your quadriceps actively straighten the knee in a jumping motion huge forces are transferred through the tendon. Hence the patella tendon comes under a large amount of stress during sports that involve rapid changing of direction and jumping movements, including but not exclusively sports such as basketball, volleyball, or high or long jumping.
With repeated strain during such activities, micro-tears as well as collagen degeneration may occur as a result in the tendon causing patellar tendinopathy (Jumpers Knee). The majority of chronic cases of jumper’s knee are more likely to be these degeneration conditions of the tendon rather than acute inflammation (or tendonitis).

What Are The Risk Factors For Developing Jumper’s Knee?

Beyond being involved in above mentioned activities the risks for developing jumper’s knee include:

  • Greater body weight.
  • Being bow-legged (knock-kneed).
  • Having an increased angle of the knee.
  • Having an abnormally high kneecap, an abnormally low kneecap.
  • Having a leg-length inequality.
  • Poor quadricep and hamstring flexibility.
  • Being Male (males are more likely to have one sided patella tendinopathy).

Obvious factors involved and worth looking at also include someone’s vertical jump ability, as well as their jumping and landing technique these can all influence the tendon loading. The kneecap tendon experiences greater mechanical load during landing than during push off when jumping, therefore, eccentric muscle action and control during landing is important to assess. This phase of the jump may well exert the mechanical and tension loads that lead to injury. All these above factors need to be considered not to mention training surface and footwear as over training and playing on hard surfaces or in poor footwear are also considered risk factors for jumper’s knee.

What Does Jumper’s Knee Feel Like?

Jumper’s knee is normally felt at the bottom front of the kneecap over what is called the lower pole of the patella. The pain is normally of an aching quality and the bottom of the patella will be very tender when pressing in the area. The symptoms of jumper’s knee typically come on slowly and may not be associated with a specific injury where the individual can trace back the onset of pain to a specific incident. The athlete is first likely to experience aching and stiffness after exercise.

The Classification Of Patella Tendinopathy

Basic classification of jumpers knee is put into 1 of 4 stages:

  • Stage 1 – Is pain only after training or activity, without any functional impairment.
  • Stage 2 – Pain before and after training but pain eases during activity once warmed-up and the individual is able to perform satisfactorily during training or playing.
  • Stage 3 – Is Pain during training limiting performance as well as prolonged pain during and after activity.
  • Stage 4 – Is pain during every day activities.

Disclaimer: Sydney Physio Clinic does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products mentioned. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific advice or assistance regarding Patella Tendinopathy: Known As Jumper’s Knee should consult his or her orthopaedic surgeon, general practitioner, sports medicine specialist or physiotherapist.

Hayden Latimer is the founder of and principle physiotherapist at Sydney Physio Clinic. Since graduating from Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand he’s gained wide experience practicing across the globe for over 15 years and is now extremely knowledgeable in helping people reduce discomfort and restore function and mobility.

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