Jumper’s knee pain
The patella tendon attaches the knee cap to the shin bone this along with the quadriceps muscles allows the knee to bend and straighten providing power for elevation and stabilization upon landing. Certain physical activities especially those that involves a lot of jumping and directional movement, such as basketball and volleyball increases the tension on the Patellar tendon and the accompanying quadriceps muscles. This gradual increase in tension over time results in the patella tendon and the surrounding tissue becoming irritated and inflamed, thus creating the condition known as jumper’s knee or Patellar Tendonitis. This is a fairly common injury in athletes.
Symptoms of jumper’s knee
The first symptom exhibited by individuals with jumper’s knee is pain at the bottom of the knee cap; this may be followed by swelling. As the condition progresses individuals may experience pain and stiffness after exertion and in some cases calf weakness. In extreme cases grinding sounds can be heard and swelling occurs in the knee.
Treatment for Jumper’s knee
Jumper’s knee can be classified into four different grades and treatment is dependent on the grade in which one find him/herself in. The grades are as follows:
• Grade 1: This is when pain occurs at the bottom of the knee cap but only after training. This can be treated by resting, applying ice to the affected area and by elevating the leg
• Grade 2: This is when pain occurs both before and after physical activity. Cutting back on the activity usually does the trick, however slight physiotherapy might be required along with those methods previously mentioned in grade 1.
• Grade 3: This is the stage when pain occurs during the activity. Treatment is the same as those mentioned under grade 1 and 2.
• Grade 4: This is the most severe case as pain is now consistent and occurs during everyday activities. At this stage extensive break from physical activity is required, at least four months. If pain persist then surgery might be required although should be a last resort. Surgery is usually agreed upon after all other treatment has been ruled out and the tendon can be seen as degenerative on a MRI.
Other treatments methods include strengthen the calf and quadriceps muscles, proper stretching before activities also helps to reduce risk. A special type of massage treatment known as transverse friction/cross fibre friction massage is also used. Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and Voltaren can be used to control pain and reduce swelling.
Treatment of jumper’s knee is slow, and it may take months before one totally recovers. Once the system recovers it is highly recommended that one stretch the quadriceps, hamstring, and calf muscles prior to physical activity. Getting into the habit of stretching and warming up and cooling down reduces one’s risk of having a recurrence of the problem.
Jumper’s knee can great impact on an athlete’s career, however with adequate knowledge of this problem and adjustments in training methods this is an obstacle that can easily overcome as one seek to get his/her life back on track.