Patellar tendonitis is the inflammation of the tendon that connects the patella to the tibia. It is most commonly found in athletes and those involved in jumping sports such as basketball, hence the title jumper’s knee. Pain and a burning sensation is the most common presentation. Patellar tendonitis treatment modalities include both surgical and non-surgical. Your doctor might first recommend non-operative depending on the severity of the injury. Here are some of the treatment plans;
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen are used to relieve inflammation and pain. These drugs can easily be bought over the counter.
An intra articular steroid injection may also be recommended if your pain is severe. It is administered in the knee capsule around the area of the tendon. Caution should, however, be taken as the injection might cause weakening of the patellar tendon, causing a rupture.
Platelet-rich plasma injection is a relatively new mode of treatment. A concentration of platelets from your blood is injected into the knee cap to promote the tendon’s healing.
The main aim of physical therapy is to reduce pain while helping stretch and strengthen your lower limb muscle.
Avoid or decrease any activity that might increase pressure around the knee cap. These include jumping, kneeling, or squatting. You should engage yourself in low impact activities if need be.
Cold compression, also referred to as cryotherapy, involves wrapping a towel around a plastic bottle with crushed ice and placing it over your knee cap for 20-30 minutes. Do this 3-4 times a day, especially after activity, for better results. The ice helps reduce pain and swelling.
Quadriceps deep tissue massage has shown improvement in the reduction of pain levels. Also, stretching of the lower limb muscle groups such as the hamstrings and quadriceps helps improve the symptoms.
Hyperthermia thermotherapy, which involves deep tissue heating alongside a cooling device, also helps relieve pain. Plus, ultrasound-guided dry needling involves making small holes in the tendon. It has also been found to decrease pain levels.
Prolotherapy involves the injection of dextrose based solution into the affected tendon. It then causes a mild and localized inflammation, which triggers the immune system. The immune system then initiates the healing process of the damaged tendon. Blood supply increases around the area, and this promotes healing.
Extracorporeal shock wave therapy uses sound waves to stimulate blood flow in the knee joint and help tissue healing. It also stops your nerve from transmitting the pain. Even better, it has been shown to reduce pain for up to 2 years.
It is performed as the last resort when all other methods have failed and in chronic refractory cases. Surgery involves reconstructing viable tendon tissue and debriding dead and damaged tendon tissue.
Arthroscopic surgery uses a small incision to access and repair the tendon in a more targeted way. This method prevents excessive tissue damage and has a shorter recovery period; thus, it happens to be the most preferred method of surgical treatment.
In most cases, non-surgical methods provide long-standing relief to the symptoms. The combination of different modalities has proven to be effective even in the most severe cases.