Is That Pain Caused By Jumper’s Knee?

Basketball player holding knee on basketball court

If a patient has been suffering from knee pain related to activity, it could be jumper’s knee, a painful condition due to an overuse injury or small tears in the patellar tendon. Reflex Knee Specialists is a knee clinic offering non-surgical treatments for knee pain caused by a variety of conditions, including jumper’s knee, to patients in Oregon, Washington, and Arizona. Here, our knee orthopedists discuss jumper’s knee, its signs and symptoms, and the treatment options we offer at Reflex Knee Specialists.

 

What Is Jumper’s Knee?

Jumper’s knee, also known as patellar tendinitis or patellar tendinopathy, is a common overuse injury that affects the patellar tendon, which connects the kneecap (patella) to the shinbone (tibia). It is frequently seen in athletes involved in jumping sports like basketball, volleyball, and track and field, hence the name “jumper’s knee.” It is caused by repetitive activities or sports requiring strenuous jumping, landing, and accelerating.

 

Signs and Symptoms of Jumper’s Knee

Jumper’s knee (or patellar tendinopathy) is a condition that develops over time, usually slowly. The symptoms can range from mild to severe, often worsening as the condition progresses. While symptoms vary in severity, they typically include:

Pain

Pain is the primary symptom of jumper’s knee and usually affects the front of the knee, just below the kneecap (patella). Initially, the pain may be dull and achy. However, it can progress to a sharp and stabbing sensation with continued activity.

Tenderness

The area where the patellar tendon attaches to the bottom of the knee cap (patella) may be tender to the touch.

Stiffness

Patients may experience stiffness in the knee, especially after prolonged periods of inactivity or waking up in the morning.

Swelling

Swelling around the patellar tendon or the knee joint itself may occur, particularly following physical activity.

Decreased Range of Motion

Some individuals with jumper’s knee may notice a reduced ability to bend or straighten the knee joint fully. This is because those movements may cause pain and stiffness.

Pain With Activity

Pain typically worsens with activities that involve:

  • Jumping
  • Running
  • Squatting
  • Climbing stairs

Pain may also be aggravated by direct pressure on the knee, such as kneeling.

Pain After Activity

Pain and discomfort may persist after exercise or physical activity, often lasting for hours or even days afterward.

Weakness

Patients may experience a sense of weakness in the quadriceps muscles, particularly when attempting to perform activities that engage the knee. These activities include jumping or squatting.

Causes and Risk Factors of Jumper’s Knee

Certain risk factors may make a person more likely to develop jumper’s knee. These include:

  • Gender: Jumper’s knee is more common in men than women.
  • Level of athletic participation: Athletes who perform or train at a competitive or elite level have higher risks of developing jumper’s knee than recreational athletes.
  • Type of physical activity: People who participate in sports like basketball, volleyball, and gymnastics are more susceptible to developing jumper’s knee than those who do not.

Although athletes who make repetitive movements are more likely to get jumper’s knee, people who do not participate in jumping sports can also develop this condition.

 

Diagnosing Jumper’s Knee

When a patient presents with recurring pain in their knee that worsens with activity, their medical provider will likely perform diagnostic testing to determine whether the problem is jumper’s knee or another condition. The evaluation generally includes taking a detailed medical history and performing a thorough physical exam. What sets the evaluation apart by a provider at Reflex Knee Specialists is imaging the tendon using ultrasound. Ultrasound of the tendon can show changes associated with a tendon strain or overuse, as well as partial or complete tears of the tendon. It can also show swelling or asymmetry of the tendon which allows the provider to pinpoint the source of pain with precision.

 

Jumper’s Knee Treatment Options

Since jumper’s knee is caused and worsened by repetitive movements, the main treatment is to reduce or stop the activities that place extra strain on the knee. This is a temporary measure until the pain subsides, and patients often need to undergo physical knee therapy to restrengthen their tendons and muscles. This helps them to regain full function.

Other treatments involved in managing pain and symptoms for Jumper’s Knee include:

  • Medications: Patients take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) to reduce pain.
  • Rest: Patients must rest to let the tendon heal.
  • Physical therapy: A high-quality Physical therapy evaluation includes identifying which supporting muscles require stretching and/or strengthening and prescribing home exercises to restore function for the long term.
  • Elevating and icing: Patients can elevate and/or ice the knee to help with swelling.
  • Patellar straps: These straps apply pressure to the patellar tendon to help redistribute forces and reduce stress on the tendon during physical activity. This support helps alleviate pain.
  • Platelet-rich plasma(PRP): For cases that are not responding to conservative measures or for athletes who need to accelerate their recovery time, one or two injections of PRP into the tendon may be needed to jumpstart healing and improve symptoms. 

In severe or chronic cases of jumper’s knee, physicians may consider surgery as a treatment option, although this is rare. Generally, non-surgical treatments are sufficient for treating jumper’s knee. At Reflex Knee Specialists, our medical providers offer comprehensive non-surgical treatments for knee injuries and conditions, including physical therapy, comprehensive knee evaluations, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, and more.

 

Book a Consultation Today

Patients with long-lasting knee pain often think they need surgery to get back to living their life pain-free. At Reflex Knee Specialists, our skilled team of medical providers takes an integrative approach to treating chronic knee pain and its causes with non-surgical treatments. Patients can easily access comprehensive treatment for knee pain with offices in Portland, OR, Bellevue, WA, and Tempe, AZ. Patients can book an appointment with our knee specialists today to learn more about jumper’s knee treatment. Call 503-719-6783 or contact us at Reflex Knee Specialists.

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