As its name implies, patellar tendinopathy—also known as jumper’s knee—is a common sports injury that can affect the knee.
Jumper’s knee is the result of trauma to the patellar tendon, which connects the back of the patella (knee cap) to the front of the shin. When the tendon is repeatedly jarred from motions like jumping or running, it begins to fray, which can cause inflammation and pain.
Athletes who play sports that involve a lot of jumping—such as basketball or volleyball—or sports that involve running and quick stops or direction changes—such as soccer or football—are most at risk for jumper’s knee.
The pain from a jumper’s knee injury is often felt on the front of the knee, either on the lower part of the kneecap or on the bony bump at the top of the shin.
In rare cases jumper’s knee can be caused by a sudden acute trauma to the tendon, but most often it’s caused by repetitive stress to the tendon. This mean the symptoms tend to appear in these escalating steps:
Step 1: You feel knee pain during or immediately following an intense training or workout, which fades with rest.
Step 2: You feel knee pain during your workout that is intense enough that you need to stop exercising.
Step 3: You feel knee pain during daily activities, such as climbing stairs or standing up.
In order to stop this progression, you need to start treating jumper’s knee as soon as symptoms appear. This means taking a break from the sport or activity that triggered the pain and following the R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compress, elevate) protocol.
If these measures are not offering relief, you should see your doctor or a physical therapist, who may recommend treatment options such as stretches, bracing, therapeutic exercises to strengthen supporting muscles, or even injections or surgery for severe cases.