Treatment of jumper’s knee can begin immediately after the injury is sustained and continue throughout physician recommended measures and, if necessary, surgery.
Immediate Treatment for Jumper’s Knee
Common first-response treatments for jumper’s knee may include:
- Pain medications. In the event that an athlete is experiencing pain symptoms associated with jumper’s knee, taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) may help to alleviate discomfort. Common NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve).
- R.I.C.E. The R.I.C.E. method (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) may be used to reduce the pain and swelling surrounding the injured area.
While these treatments are commonly applied after an initial injury, they may also be practiced following a diagnosis to help mitigate symptoms and pain throughout the healing process.
Recommended Treatments for Jumper’s Knee
In addition to pausing athletic activity until the symptoms of jumper’s knee begin to fade, an athlete may need to undergo other treatments to ensure the health of his or her patellar tendon. Following a medical evaluation, a doctor will be able to recommend a course of treatment. Common treatments for jumper’s knee include:
- Exercise training. A physician or physical therapist may recommend exercise training and bracing to strengthen the patellar tendon and reduce the symptoms of jumper’s knee. This process commonly involves having an athlete engage in a series of knee strengthening exercises.
- Bracing. A physician may recommend stabilizing the patella with either a brace or athletic tape to keep it in place during exercise training.
- Injection therapies. In more advanced cases of patellar tendinopathy, it is common for physicians to recommend injection therapies. In these treatments, an athlete is given an injection (typically of either polidocanol or corticosteroids) to reduce inflammation and accelerate the healing of the patellar tendon.
- Platelet-rich plasma therapy. This practice, also known as PRP, involves injecting the site of the injury with the patient's own platelet-rich plasma in an effort to accelerate healing.
- Dry needling. In dry needling, a needle without a syringe is inserted into the affected area and moved, with the guidance of an arthroscopic camera, in an effort to break up or destroy degenerative structures within the knee that may be contributing to injury.
- Hyperthermia thermotherapy. This process involves using both a heating source and a cooling source to raise the temperature of internally damaged tissues (in this case the patellar tendon) while allowing the surface level tissues to stay cool.
- Extracorporeal shockwave treatment. This procedure, also known as ECSW, involves sending electric impulses into the muscle tissue surrounding the patella to deliver force to damaged tissues. The force from the electric waves can help to do away with damaged or torn soft tissues.
See PRP Therapy for Chronic Tendon Injuries
A physician will likely try several non-surgical treatments for runner’s knee before pursuing a surgical option.
Surgical Interventions for Jumper’s Knee
In the event that the injury is severe and noninvasive treatments have proven ineffective, a physician may recommend surgery to help mitigate the condition. Some of the most common surgeries for jumper’s knee are:
- Arthroscopic debridement. A small camera and several surgical tools are inserted into the knee joint and used to remove damaged tissue.
- Arthroscopic resection of the inferior aspect of the patella. This method can be used to remove or realign any damaged piece of the inferior aspect of the patella that may be putting unwanted stress on the patellar tendon.
Athletes who believe they may have sustained an injury to their patellar tendon should always cease athletic exertion until medical evaluation can be completed.