Knee > Treatments
Your doctor may recommend rest to ease the pain and
swelling associated with jumper's knee (patellar tendinitis).
You may want to follow the routine known as R.I.C.E.,
which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation:
- Your doctor will likely suggest that you take it easy
for several days, so it may be wise to clear your schedule
of any physical activities.
- Initially, your doctor may recommend applying ice
packs to the knee for about 20 minutes every three or
four hours. You will probably need to do this for two
or three days or until the pain subsides.
- A knee sleeve will compress the knee and help keep
the swelling down. Make sure to use a sleeve without
a "donut," or hole, over the kneecap. The
sleeve should be worn until the swelling goes away.
- Elevating your knee above the level of your heart
will help reduce swelling by dispersing excess fluid
away from the injured area.
such as ibuprofen may also be recommended or prescribed.
They will help reduce the swelling and hasten the healing
of the tendon. You probably should not do the activity
that caused the problem, especially if it requires jumping,
until the tendon has healed.
Your physician may prescribe a neoprene knee sleeve
to help ease the stress on the tendon. A knee sleeve
will help stabilize your knee and take the pressure
off the patellar tendon so that it does not become further
overused or painful. A sleeve compresses the tendon,
which is located just below the kneecap, and helps prevent
further injury while you are exercising or doing your
activities. There are various types of sleeves, but
most are the type that simply slide up the leg and have
a hole in front for the kneecap. They are flexible and
you should be able to wear one comfortably throughout
the day. The sleeve, which fits easily under normal
clothing, should be worn during physical exercise. If
there is no improvement after six to eight weeks, you
should consult your physician as a different treatment
may be necessary.
If you and your doctor decide on a
physical rehabilitation treatment for your jumper's
knee (patellar tendinitis), you will most likely need
to do several exercises to stretch the quadriceps muscle
and build strength around the knee so the patellar tendon
is less stressed when you are active. Your physician
will probably recommend that you do not begin exercises
until swelling and pain have been reduced. For the first
two or three days, he will likely suggest applying ice
packs on the area for 20 to 30 minutes every three or
four hours. Your doctor may also prescribe an anti-inflammatory;
these may be over-the-counter drugs such as aspirin
or ibuprofen, or may be prescription drugs. Once the
pain and swelling have subsided, you should be ready
to begin exercises. The goal is to increase range of
motion and to strengthen the quadriceps and hamstring
muscles. Stronger quadriceps will help absorb strain
on the patellar tendon and reduce the chances of developing
tendinitis again. Doing gentle leg exercises is usually
the best way to begin - you need to exercise the muscles
but you should not be doing so much that you have discomfort
or pain. Extending and flexing your leg or riding a
stationary bicycle at low tension should initially suffice.
Do not do anything that puts too much strain on the
area. As the tendon heals, your doctor may tell you
that it is OK to return to your regular exercise routine.
Recovery from jumper's knee can take six weeks to six
months, depending on the severity and the success of
treatment. Everyone heals at a different rate, so the
important factor is how your knee is responding, not
how much time has passed. Your physician will determine
when you are ready to return to your activities, but
these are generally the things he or she will look for
when making that determination:
you straighten and bend your knee without pain?
the swelling subsided?
your affected knee as strong as the other knee?
you walk, jog and sprint without limping?
you jump without pain?
you change directions while running or run in a circular
fashion without pain?
strengthening exercises: Kneecap (patella) injuries
Because jumper's knee (patellar tendinitis)
is usually caused by overuse that irritates the tendon
and causes inflammation and pain, it can best be prevented
by having strong, flexible thigh muscles. Because tight
muscles and tendons are the ones most likely to be irritated
by activity, warming up before starting an activity
should be considered essential so that the hamstring
and thigh muscles are properly stretched. Rest between
activities is also very important. It may be a good
idea to continue exercises that help keep the thigh
muscles strong and better enable all of the muscles
around the knee to absorb the shock of eccentric loading
- that is, when a muscle stretches and contracts at
the same time, as happens when a person jumps or lunges.
Should symptoms of tendinitis recur, you should consult
your physician as a more aggressive approach, up to
and including surgery, may be needed.