Patella Tendinopathy, also known as Patella Tendinitis or “Runner’s Knee”, is an overuse injury of the knee. Usually it is the result of the patella tendon being overstressed.
The patella tendon is located just below the knee cap (patella). It has attachments on the patella and the tibial tuberosity on the shin bone (tibia). The patella generates a big mechanical advantage at the knee, allowing the quadriceps to create strong forces at the knee, much like a rope around a pulley, as the knee straightens. This is specially important for sports that involve jumping, running and kicking.
Because the patellar tendon absorbs so much force, the long strands of connective tissue that make up the tendon can become injured. The real problem is not so much the inflammation, but the degradation of the tendon structure that results from the chronic stress on the patellar tendon. This can result in long-term, chronic patellar tendinitis.
What causes it?
- poor hamstring and quadriceps flexibility
- weak gluteus leading to overuse of quadriceps, which in turn leads to overload of patella and patella tendon
- anterior knee pain below knee cap, on patellar tendon
- patella may appear higher than opposite side due to tightness on quads
- pain when jumping, landing or running activities and sometimes with prolonged sitting
- onset of pain is usually gradual and commonly related to an increase in sport activity
- stiffness first thing in the morning.
- affected tendon may appear thickened in comparison to the unaffected side