What is knee tendonitis?
Tendonitis of the knee refers to inflammation of the tendons that surround the knee joint. In general, the patellar tendon, or the tendon that connects your patella (knee cap) to your tibia (shin bone) can become irritated when asked to meet the high demands of physical stresses and loads. The patellar tendon is necessary for knee and lower leg extension during activities such as walking, running, kicking a ball, pushing the pedals on a bike or jumping. Commonly associated with athletes or other sports related overuse injury, this condition can be associated with pain, swelling and redness. People who endure increased levels of jumping, running and impact may experience symptoms of activity that expresses itself in the knees or anywhere up the kinetic chain. There are many different types of knee tendonitis, conventional breeds you may have heard of are patellar tendonitis, also referred to as “jumper’s knee”, quadriceps tendonitis, or iliotibial band friction syndrome or IT band syndrome.
What if you have these symptoms?
There are a few proven techniques that will help you on your road to recovery, and the first thing to do is to reduce your symptoms.RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation after activity is recommended to calm the swelling and reduce pain. As noted, REST is the first and single most beneficial thing you can do for your knee once it is inflamed. Studies have shown that symptoms of tendonitis tend to disappear on a scale of weeks with rest, although elderly people and people who continued to ignore symptoms in their affected area did not heal as quickly and were more likely to progress to a chronic condition.
Taking anti-inflammatory drugs or pain relievers may also be an option to alleviate acute pain and symptoms of swelling/inflammation. In some cases people have found relief from coritsone or local anesthetic injections which tend to last up to 24 to 72 hours. In even more rare cases, surgery may be required to attend to damaged or frayed tendons.
Stretching is also suggested for specific muscle groups such as the quads, and IT band.
Cross-friction self massage or use of ointments that increase the temperature and circulation to the tissue area may also be helpful. The increase in blood flow will help speed the tissue healing and recovery time. Small vigorous semi-circular motions over the tendon and sweeping motions up towards the heart are good for increasing blood flow and encouraging lymph drainage.
Strengthening exercises such as mini-squats, wall slides or using an exercise ball against the wall can improve the strength of your quadricep muscles and help with overall balance and the alignment of forces through the knee. Exercises should be done in moderation and should not cause pain. If possible, make sure to perform exercises in a mirror and to watch yourself as you squat down that the plane of your knees does not exceed the plane of your toes, and your legs are coming down in a straight line, and not caving in towards one another.
Add support by wearing a knee brace or taping your knee may also help with painful symptoms during activity.
Overuse injuries tend to be chronic in nature and thus will most likely not disappear overnight. It is always a good idea to see a doctor or physical therapist to have them give you an individualized exercise prescription and answer any other questions you may have.