What is the fastest way to heal patellar tendonitis?
Unfortunately, the fastest way to heal patellar tendonitis is to stop doing the activity that is causing it, followed by a course of physical therapy that includes quadriceps and hamstring stretching. This is not what most people want to hear, but it is what you have to do in most cases to get rid of the pain. As an orthopedic surgeon in Colorado Springs, patellar tendonitis is something that I treat regularly.
What causes patellar tendonitis?
Patellar tendonitis is caused by repeated forceful contractions of your knee while you are putting weight on it. Or in other words, it’s caused by activities that require a lot of jumping. In fact, patellar tendonitis is also known as jumper’s knee. You see it mostly in teenagers and young adults. It occurs in 20% of jumping athletes and is the most common in volleyball players. The patellar tendon, (which you can feel and connects the bottom of your kneecap to the top of your shin) gets overused and develops a bunch of micro tears that cause pain. Lack of flexibility in your hamstrings and quadriceps contributes to increased stress on the patellar tendon. So if you have tight hamstrings and quadriceps, and are playing a sport that requires a lot of jumping, you are at risk for developing patellar tendonitis.
How do I get rid of my patellar tendonitis?
First and foremost, as I always say in my practice as an orthopedic surgeon in Colorado Springs, you need to get an accurate diagnosis first. If you think that you have patellar tendonitis, you may very well be right, it’s your body and you know it better than anyone. That being said, there are a lot of other things that can go wrong with your knee, and if it’s really something else that is causing you pain, then you likely won’t get better with the treatment protocol that patellar tendonitis requires.
Once you know you have patellar tendonitis, the best way to get rid of it is to avoid those activities that are causing a lot of pain. This will allow your patellar tendon to rest and not make the problem worse while you are trying to heal. The next thing to do is physical therapy to focus on hamstring and quadriceps stretching, and something called an eccentric exercise program, which are specific exercises that focus on strengthening while also lengthening rather than contracting. I always recommend using a physical therapist, but if you can’t then you might be able to do the exercises on your own using this video. Some people will also try a knee brace called a chopat’s strap, which can be found here. The idea behind this strap is that it takes some pressure off of your patellar tendon. Icing your knee can also help as well. You do not want to inject steroids into the patellar tendon itself, as this can damage the tendon.
Most of the time, a combination of activity modification and physical therapy is enough to make your pain go away and allow you to return to the sports you want to play. Rarely, if all else fails, you may need a surgery to clean the patellar tendon up and reattach it. Most people never get to this point.
I hope I was able to answer your questions about what is the fastest way to heal patellar tendonitis. If you still have any questions or want to schedule an in person or virtual consult, please feel free to contact me.
-Written by Dr. Daniel Paull