What is patella tendinitis?
The patella tendon is the tendon that connects your kneecap (patella) to your shinbone (tibia). This tendon helps your muscles to straighten your leg out. Patella tendinitis (also called jumpers knee) is the inflammation of this tendon. The main symptom of patella tendinitis is pain directly below the kneecap, this could also be a burning sensation. Swelling and stiffness in this area is also common. This makes it harder to go about activities such as exercise, climbing stairs, kneeling down, or even sitting in a car. Patella tendinitis can happen in anyone, but it is particularly common in athletes, especially in those that play sports such as basketball or volleyball.
How is it caused?
Patella tendinitis is caused by repetitive stress on the knee. This is usually in the form of exercise and sports. The repetitive stress causes inflammation in the tendon, and can cause the tendon to become weak over time. There are many factors that can contribute to patella tendinitis being more likely to occur. These are:
- Misaligned joints anywhere in the legs (hips, knees, ankles, feet)
- Overly tight leg muscles or uneven leg muscle strength
- Repetitive actions such as jumping, squatting, and running
- Bad shoes, especially those without enough padding
- Regularly playing sports on hard surfaces
How does chiropractic help with patella tendinitis?
As mentioned above, misaligned joints are a common cause of patella tendinitis, as the misalignment places extra stress on the tendon and causes it to become inflamed. Misalignments in the legs can also mean the muscles aren’t able to work correctly, which can cause tightness of the muscles, or uneven strength between legs, which as mentioned above, can be a contributor. Chiropractors are able to locate these misaligned joints and perform adjustments, which restores proper joint movement and reduces stress placed on the patella tendon. This can prevent patella tendinitis from occurring or help it to heal if you are already suffering from it. As chiropractors have a good understanding of all the joints of legs, they can also give you stretches and exercises to help with your recovery.
What else can I do to help with patella tendinitis?
Rest: patella tendinitis is due to repetitive stress on the tendon, so you may need to reduce your activity levels and rest while it heals.
- Ice: ice will help to reduce inflammation and pain.
- Knee support: wearing knee support when playing sports and exercising helps to reduce stress on the knees.
- Stretches: tight muscles in the legs can contribute to patella tendinitis, so it is important to regularly stretch the legs, particularly the quadriceps and hamstrings.
- Exercises: having strong leg muscles helps to support the knee joint and reduce stress on the tendon.
- Shoes: it is important to have good quality shoes that help to support the knees.
- Lose weight: excess weight places a lot of extra stress on the knees, maintaining a healthy weight will minimise unnecessary stress on the knees.
- Prevention: it is important to warm up before and cool down after exercise to help prevent patella tendinitis. You should also avoid jumping and running on hard surfaces where possible.