Tendinitis services offered in Portland, OR, Bellevue, WA and Tempe, AZ
An active lifestyle is important for mental and physical well-being. But what happens when a knee injury arises? Tendinitis is a common knee ailment that can prevent a person from performing their favorite sports and hobbies, working on the job effectively, and even performing everyday tasks.
With offices in Portland, Oregon; Bellevue, Washington; and Tempe, Arizona, the medical team at Reflex Knee Specialists is experienced in using ultrasound imaging to diagnose tendinitis and offering advanced treatments to help patients get out of pain and back to the activities they enjoy. Find out more about this condition and when it’s time for a comprehensive knee evaluation.
What Are Tendons?
A tendon is a type of connective tissue that attaches muscle to bone. Tendons are strong and semi-flexible bands of fibrous tissue responsible for transmitting the force generated by muscle contractions to the bones, allowing for movement. They also help stabilize joints. Tendons are composed of collagen fibers, which are arranged in parallel bundles to provide strength and resilience.
What Is Tendinitis?
Tendinitis occurs when a tendon becomes inflamed or irritated. Depending on the type of injury, this condition can be chronic or acute. Many types of tendinitis exist and can affect several parts of the body. However, the providers at Reflex Knee Specialists focus on tendons around the knee. The most common forms of tendinitis treated by our medical team include:
- Quadriceps tendinitis: Associated with a dull, throbbing sensation above the patella (kneecap), this injury affects the tendon that connects the muscles in the front of the thigh to the kneecap (patella).
- Patellar tendinitis (jumper’s knee): Characterized by pain just below the kneecap, this injury affects the tendon that runs from the patella (kneecap) to the tibia (shinbone).
Two types of patients are prone to developing tendon injuries; those who suddenly and substantially boost their activity levels and those who return to full activity after an extended break (instead of slowly easing their way into it). More serious tendon injuries, such as partial- or full-thickness tears, are most often found in athletes and other physically active individuals.
Tendinitis vs. Tendinosis
Tendinitis is sometimes confused with tendinosis, as both conditions affect the knee. However, these two conditions are different. Also called chronic tendinitis, tendinosis is a degenerative condition and coincides with microtears and collagen breakdown. It may also occur if the tendon does not properly heal. The main causes of tendinosis are age, strain from repetitive motions, and decreased blood supply.
Tendinosis typically does not come with acute inflammation like tendinitis. Pain, stiffness, and weakness in and around the affected area are common with tendinosis. Diagnosis of these two conditions can be made using knee ultrasound.
One common treatment suggested for tendinosis is eccentric exercise. These exercises lengthen the affected tendon for more effective healing. Physical therapy can help by optimizing the mechanics of the joint (and adjacent tendons). PRP may help if a patient experiences an acute flare, but conservative measures such as avoiding exacerbating activities are usually effective. Treatments for tendinitis are listed below.
Causes and Risk Factors of Tendinitis
Tendinitis is a highly common condition that almost anyone can develop. It is usually caused by strain, overuse, or injury.
Age, poor posture, and type of physical activity are all common risk factors. Middle-aged people who run or participate in sports that include jumping are at an increased risk for this injury. Anyone with tight leg muscles or imbalanced muscles is also at risk. Finally, repetitive tasks that involve kneeling, squatting, or lifting may result in tendinitis of the knee.
Depending on its severity, tendinitis may manifest as a dull discomfort or as extreme pain, both of which interfere with daily activities. While symptoms may begin mildly and get progressively worse, patients who have injured a tendon in the knee often know right away that something’s wrong. Along with pain and tenderness over the affected area, tendinitis symptoms often include the following:
- Pain over the patellar tendon (between the kneecap and shinbone)
- Pain over the quadriceps tendon (just above the kneecap)
- Pain that becomes worse during exercise or after strenuous activity
- Pain that interferes with regular movement
When persistent pain is present, patients are advised to be evaluated by a healthcare provider with expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of knee injuries. Providers on the Reflex Knee Specialists team are experienced in diagnosing and treating a broad spectrum of joint injuries and conditions, including tendinitis.
Diagnosing Tendinitis at Reflex Knee Specialists
The providers at Reflex Knee Specialists take a personalized approach to care for every patient. To diagnose tendon strains and injuries in the knee, our clinical team will ask questions about the onset of the pain, which activities increase discomfort, and if symptoms improve with rest.
The provider will then perform a physical examination to test the knee’s level of stability and range of motion. The provider will also perform diagnostic knee ultrasound. This non-invasive examination evaluates the condition of the tendon tissue and gives the provider a clear view of the affected area and surrounding tissues.
Non-Surgical Tendinitis Treatments
At Reflex Knee Specialists, each treatment plan is carefully crafted with the unique needs of the patient in mind. Knee tendinitis treatments depend on the patient’s age, symptoms, severity of the damage, and other key assessment factors. Recommendations may include:
Resting the joint
Most minor tendon strains and tendinitis will resolve with rest
One of our skilled physical therapists with specialized knee training will assess the large supporting muscles around the knee to see if there is asymmetry in strength or excessive tightness, both of which can increase the stress on the tendons.
Muscle-strengthening and stretching exercises
These are prescribed based on your biomechanical assessment.
The provider may recommend avoiding activities that increase pain.
Patellar tendon strap
Wearing a patellar tendon strap may also help alleviate symptoms by reducing some tension where the patellar tendon inserts onto the patella (kneecap)
Another treatment option may be platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment. The platelet cells found within the blood contain special proteins (growth factors) that can aid in tissue recovery. This evidence-based, non-surgical knee treatment provides relief to athletes with tendinitis, overuse injuries, and other joint conditions. Benefits of this therapy include:
- Decreased pain
- Reduced inflammation
- Accelerated recovery
When to See a Medical Professional for Tendinitis
Patients who have recently injured a knee tendon can try some self-care methods at home. Schedule an evaluation with a knee expert when any of the following apply:
- Pain continues or worsens, even with ice and rest
- Discomfort interferes with routine daily tasks
- Swelling and redness appear around the knee joint
- Gas pedal knee
Shedule an Appointment with a Knee Specialist Today
Patients experiencing recurrent pain or swelling in the knee can expect comprehensive, patient-centered care at Reflex Knee Specialists. Several types of health insurance are accepted at our offices in Portland, Oregon, Bellevue, Washington and Tempe, Arizona. We accept most insurance including Medicare. However, we do not accept Medicaid at this time. Call or contact us to schedule an appointment for top-notch evaluation and treatment.