Doctors typically begin with less invasive treatments before considering other options, such as surgery.
Pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) or naproxen (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. Eccentric exercises, which involve lowering your leg very slowly after you extend your knee, are particularly helpful.
- Patellar tendon strap. A strap that applies pressure to your patellar tendon can help to distribute force away from the tendon itself 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 haven't helped, 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. An injection of platelet-rich plasma 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. If conservative approaches aren't helping after many months of treatment, in rare cases your doctor might suggest surgical intervention for the patellar tendon. Some of these procedures can be accomplished through small incisions around your knee.
- Hudgins TH. Jumper's knee. In: Frontera WR, et al. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: Musculoskeletal Disorders, Pain, and Rehabilitation. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2008. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-6/0/1678/0.html. Accessed Dec. 27, 2011.
- Choi L. Knee overuse injuries. In: DeLee JC, et al. DeLee & Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine: Principles and Practice. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-3143-7..X0001-2--TOP&isbn=978-1-4160-3143-7&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed Dec. 27, 2011.
- Rauh MA, et al. Evaluation of quadriceps and patellar tendinosis. In: DeLee JC, et al. DeLee & Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine: Principles and Practice. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-3143-7..X0001-2--TOP&isbn=978-1-4160-3143-7&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed Dec. 27, 2011.
- Hergenroeder AC. Approach to the young athlete with chronic knee pain or injury. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Dec. 27, 2011.
- Khan K, et al. Overview of the management of overuse (chronic) tendinopathy. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Dec. 27, 2011.
- AskMayoExpert. When are platelet-rich plasma (PRP) peripheral injections indicated for tendinopathy? Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2011.
- Laskowski ER (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 4, 2012.
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