The quadriceps tendon, located above the kneecap (patella), connects the quadriceps muscles in the front of the thigh to the top of the kneecap. The patellar tendon is located below the kneecap and connects the kneecap to the shinbone (tibia). Both of these tendons work with the muscles in the front of the thigh to straighten the knee. Tendinitis is caused by repeated stress on a tendon, which can result in the tendon becoming thickened and developing tears.
Patellar and quadriceps tendinitis are both common disorders that typically appear in athletes whose sports require jumping or squatting, like volleyball, basketball, etc. The disorder is also known as “jumper’s knee.” It can occur in any active person, not just athletes, but especially those who have recently increased their physical activity.
Other factors that can increase the risk of developing patellar and quadriceps tendinitis are as follows:
Age: As you age, your tendons become less flexible and more prone to inflammation
Weight: Excess weight puts extra stress on tendons
Chronic disease: Diseases such as lupus and diabetes reduce body supply to the knee, which weakens the tendons and increases the risk of tendinitis
Patellar tendinitis is characterized by pain in the anterior knee below the kneecap. Quadriceps tendinitis is characterized by pain in the anterior knee above the kneecap. It is often worsened by prolonged sitting or activities such as jumping, running, squatting, or walking up and down stairs. You may also feel stiffness, especially in the morning or after performing physical activity. Swelling may also occur, with the tendon appearing thickened or swollen. You may experience tightness or loss of strength in the affected area.
How Can Physical Therapy Help?
Physical therapy is an essential part of treatment for patellar and quadriceps tendinitis. Strengthening exercises are often used to help recover any loss of strength. Stretching exercises can be beneficial if the thigh muscles have become tightened. Strengthening and stretching exercises will help the tendons handle stresses placed on them during physical activity. Your physical therapist will guide you in activity restrictions as well as provide you a home exercise program.
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