Doctors typically begin with less invasive treatments before considering other options, such as surgery.
Pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve, others) may provide short-term relief from pain associated with patellar tendinitis.
A variety of physical therapy techniques can help reduce the symptoms associated with patellar tendinitis, including:
- Stretching exercises. Regular, steady stretching exercises can reduce muscle spasm and help lengthen the muscle-tendon unit. Don't bounce during your stretch.
- Strengthening exercises. Weak thigh muscles contribute to the strain on your patellar tendon. Exercises that involve lowering your leg very slowly after extending it are particularly helpful.
- Patellar tendon strap. A strap that applies pressure to your patellar tendon can help to distribute force away from the tendon and direct it through the strap instead. This may help relieve pain.
- Iontophoresis. This therapy involves spreading a corticosteroid medicine on your skin and then using a device that delivers a low electrical charge to push the medication through your skin.
Surgical and other procedures
If conservative treatments don't help, your doctor may suggest other therapies, such as:
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- Corticosteroid injection. An ultrasound-guided corticosteroid injection into the sheath around the patellar tendon may help relieve pain. But these types of drugs can also weaken tendons and make them more likely to rupture.
- Platelet-rich plasma injection. This type of injection has been tried in some people with chronic patellar tendon problems. Studies are ongoing. It is hoped the injections might promote new tissue formation and help heal tendon damage.
- Surgery. In rare cases, if other treatments fail, your doctor might suggest surgical repair of the patellar tendon. Some procedures can be done through small incisions around your knee.
- Patellar tendon tear. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00512. Accessed Dec. 15, 2014.
- Beutler A, et al. Approach to the athlete or active adult with knee pain. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Dec. 15, 2014.
- Rath E, et al. Clinical signs and anatomical correlation of patellar tendinitis. Indian Journal of Orthopaedics. 2010;44:435.
- Christian RA, et al. Patellar tendinopathy: Recent developments toward treatment. Bulletin of the Hospital for Joint Diseases. 2014;72:217.
- AskMayoExpert. When are platelet-rich plasma (PRP) peripheral injections indicated for tendinopathy? Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2014.
- Khan K, et al. Overview of the management of overuse (chronic) tendinopathy. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Dec. 15, 2014.
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