Patellar tendinopathy

Patellar Tendinopathy

Are you suffering from pain at the front of your knee that worsens after prolonged rest or overexertion and is better with gentle movement or light exercise? You may have patellar tendinopathy (or jumper’s knee). In this blog, we will discuss patellar tendinopathy from a physiotherapy perspective, exploring its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention strategies.

UNderstanding Patellar Tendinopathy

Patellar tendinopathy is a prevalent knee condition characterized by pain and dysfunction around the patellar tendon, which connects the patella (kneecap) to the tibia (shinbone). It is often encountered in athletes participating in sports that involve repetitive jumping, running, or change-in-direction motions, such as basketball, volleyball, and track and field. Weekend sports warriors who suddenly increase their jumping, running, or squatting load without a gradual progression may also develop patellar tendon dysfunction.


Patellar tendinopathy typically develops due to overuse or repetitive stress on the patellar tendon. Micro-tears and degenerative changes within the tendon occur when the tendon is subjected to excessive loading without adequate rest and recovery. Additionally, factors such as poor biomechanics, muscle imbalances, and inadequate warm-up routines can contribute to the development of patellar tendinopathy.

SYmptoms of Patellar TendinopathY

The hallmark symptom of patellar tendinopathy is pain localized to the front of the knee, just below the kneecap. This pain is often exacerbated by activities that involve jumping, running, or squatting. Initially, individuals may experience discomfort only during physical activity, but pain may persist during rest and even interfere with daily activities as the condition progresses

DIagnosis of Patellar Tendinopathy

Diagnosing patellar tendinopathy involves a thorough clinical assessment by a physiotherapist or sports medicine professional. This assessment includes a detailed history of the individual’s symptoms and physical activities, a physical examination to assess pain and tendon function, and specialized tests such as ultrasound or MRI for further investigation when necessary.

TReatment  of Patellar TendinopathY

Physiotherapy plays a central role in the management of patellar tendinopathy. Treatment strategies aim to reduce pain, promote tendon healing, and address underlying training load and biomechanical factors. Here are some key components of physiotherapy treatment for patellar tendinopathy:


Load Management is paramount for the recovery from patellar tendinopathy. During the acute phase, gradual reduction and modification of activities that aggravate symptoms while moderating the tendon loading through targeted exercises is crucial for tendon healing. As the healing progresses, gradual resumption of load is necessary to ensure healing continues while building the capacity to return to sport.


Specific strengthening exercises focusing on the quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteal muscles may help improve tendon function and reduce strain on the patellar tendon. 

Eccentric exercises, which involve lengthening the muscle-tendon unit under tension, have also been shown to be particularly effective in managing patellar tendinopathy.


When indicated, manual therapy, such as soft tissue and joint mobilization, taping, and electrical muscle stimulation, may be used to alleviate pain, improve tissue flexibility, and promote healing.

PREVEntion of Patellar Tendinopathy

Prevention is key in minimizing the risk of developing patellar tendinopathy. Athletes and individuals engaging in activities that stress the patellar tendon should incorporate the following strategies into their training regimen:


1. Gradual Progression: Gradually increase the intensity, duration, and frequency of activities to allow the patellar tendon to adapt to the demands placed on it.

2. Proper Technique: Ensuring proper jumping and landing mechanics and maintaining good overall body alignment during activities can reduce excessive stress on the patellar tendon.

3. Warm-up and Cool-down: Incorporating dynamic warm-up exercises and stretching routines before physical activity and cooling down and stretching afterwards can help prepare the muscles and tendons and reduce the risk of injury.

4. Strength and Flexibility Training: Regular strength training and flexibility exercises targeting the lower limb muscles can improve joint stability, reduce muscle imbalances, and enhance overall performance while reducing the risk of injury.


Patellar tendinopathy is a common and often challenging condition encountered in physiotherapy, particularly among athletes and active individuals. By understanding the underlying mechanisms, implementing evidence-based treatment strategies, and adopting preventive measures, physiotherapists play a vital role in helping patients manage this condition effectively, regain function, and return to their desired activity level.

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