Understanding Patellar Tendinopathy

Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Photo of two men playing beach volleyball.

Understanding Patellar Tendinopathy: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment 

Patellar tendinopathy, also known as jumper's knee, is a common overuse injury that affects the patellar tendon, which connects the kneecap (patella) to the shinbone (tibia). This condition is commonly seen in athletes participating in sports that involve repetitive jumping and quick changes in direction. In this blog post, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for patellar tendinopathy. 

Causes of Patellar Tendinopathy: 

Patellar tendinopathy typically occurs due to repetitive stress on the patellar tendon. The primary contributing factors include:

  • Overuse: Engaging in activities that involve excessive jumping, such as basketball or volleyball, can place repetitive strain on the patellar tendon, leading to micro-tears and degeneration over time. 
  • Poor Biomechanics: Certain factors like muscle imbalances, weakness and faulty movement patterns can contribute to increased stress on the patellar tendon. 
  • Training Errors: A sudden increase in training intensity, frequency, or duration without allowing sufficient rest and recovery can overload the patellar tendon, making it susceptible to injury. 

Symptoms of Patellar Tendinopathy

The symptoms of patellar tendinopathy can vary in severity but typically include: 

  • Pain and Tenderness: Pain is usually felt below the kneecap, where the patellar tendon attaches to the shinbone. The pain may worsen with activity, especially during jumping or running, and may persist even after exercise. 
  • Stiffness and Swelling: The affected area may feel stiff, and mild swelling may be present around the patellar tendon. 
  • Gradual Onset: Patellar tendinopathy often develops gradually, with mild pain and discomfort that progressively worsens over time. 

A man performing a physical therapy exercise.

Diagnosis and Treatment Options: 

Non-Surgical Treatment:

  • Modification of Activities: Reducing or modifying activities to better match the capacity of the tendon to the loads it is being subjected to can help relieve symptoms and facilitate recovery. 
  • Physical Therapy focused on strength exercises: A structured rehabilitation program that includes strengthening exercises combined with a progressive loading plan can improve the tendon's structure and reduce pain symptoms. 
  • Proper Technique and Biomechanics: Using proper landing and jumping techniques, along with correcting any faulty movement patterns, can reduce strain on the patellar tendon. 
  • Adequate Rest and Recovery: Incorporating rest days into your training schedule and listening to your body's signals for fatigue or pain is essential for preventing overuse injuries
  • Surgical Treatment: In rare cases where conservative measures fail to provide relief, surgical intervention may be considered. Procedures such as tendon debridement, tenotomy, or platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections may be performed to stimulate healing and repair. 


Patellar tendinopathy is a common condition among athletes, particularly those involved in jumping sports. By understanding its causes, recognizing the symptoms, and following appropriate treatment and prevention strategies, individuals can manage this condition effectively. If you experience persistent knee pain or suspect patellar tendinopathy, consulting a healthcare professional is crucial to receive a proper diagnosis and develop a tailored treatment plan. Remember, early intervention and proper care can promote healing and help you return to your favorite activities pain-free.

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