Symptom, Causes and Diagnosis of Patellar Tendinitis

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What is Patellar Tendinitis?

Patellar tendinitis is an inflammation that affects the tendon that connects your patella (kneecap) to your shinbone. This condition is commonly seen in athletes who participate in sports that require frequent jumping and landing, such as basketball and volleyball, causing it to also be known as jumper’s knee. It can lead to your tendon weakening, and progress to tears if left untreated.

Patellar Tendinitis | Avant Orthopaedics

What are the Symptoms of Patellar Tendinitis?

A telling symptom of patellar tendinitis is front knee pain. In the early stages, you may only feel pain in activities such as running, jumping, or kneeling. But as the condition progresses, the pain can worsen and interfere with your ability to participate in sports, as well as carry out daily activities.

Pain may also be accompanied by tenderness, which is often felt as a soreness or discomfort when pressure is applied to the area, such as during palpation or when kneeling. This is often a result of inflammation in the tendon and can worsen with activity.

This is a common symptom of patellar tendinitis which can vary in severity. It  is usually seen as an enlargement or puffiness around the lower part of the kneecap, where the patellar tendon attaches to the shinbone (tibia). It can be subtle in mild cases, and more pronounced in severe situations.

Stiffness can be felt in the affected knee and may be noticeable after long periods of rest or inactivity. This is often due to inflammation and swelling in the patellar tendon, which can limit the normal range of motion of the knee joint.

In addition to stiffness, you may also experience tightness in the muscles surrounding the knee, such as the thigh muscles. This can worsen feelings of stiffness and restricted movement in the joint.

What are the Common Causes of Patellar Tendinitis?

Foot impairments, such as flat feet or high arches can influence the way we move and walk. This can lead to increased stress on the knee joint and patellar tendon.

Often seen in physical activities which involve jumping and running, excessive strain on the patellar tendon is often tied to overuse and repetitive stress. This causes micro-tears in the affected tendon, leading to inflammation and weakening over time. Over time, if this is left untreated, it can result in patellar tendinitis.

When the muscles around the knee are weak or imbalanced, it can lead to increased stress on the patellar tendon during physical activities. As they are unable to provide the needed support and stability, the patellar tendon has to bear more load than it can handle, leading to inflammation and injury.

A sudden increase in the intensity, duration, or frequency of a physical activity or sports training can increase the risk of developing patellar tendinitis. Training errors can not only overload the patellar tendon but also strain other muscles and tendons around the knee. Therefore, it is always recommended to allow for a gradual progression in training and listen to your body to prevent overuse injuries like patellar tendinitis.

Patellar Tendinitis Diagnosed | Avant Orthopaedics

How is Patellar Tendinitis Diagnosed?

Your doctor will begin by carrying out a physical examination of the affected knee. This could include palpating the area to check for tenderness, swelling, or warmth, which are common signs of inflammation in the patellar tendon. You may also be asked to describe your symptoms and any recent activities that may have contributed to your front knee pain.

X-rays are not used to diagnose patellar tendinitis, as this condition affects tendons which are not visible on the imaging test. However, X-rays are used to rule out bone problems that can cause knee pain and swelling, such as fractures and arthritis.

Ultrasound uses sound waves to create a detailed image of your knee in real-time, which is used to visualise tears or other abnormalities in the patellar tendon. It can also assess the severity of the damage if your condition is caused by an injury or accident. This helps your doctor develop an appropriate treatment plan that is tailored to your needs.

MRI uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of the internal structures of the knee, including the patellar tendon. Your doctor may also use it to evaluate other structures in the knee, such as the cartilage, ligaments, and bones, to rule out other potential causes of knee pain and swelling.


Conditions That May Be Confused for Patellar Tendinitis | Avant Orthopaedics

What are the Conditions That May Be Confused for Patellar Tendinitis?

Other conditions such as patellofemoral pain syndrome, and meniscus tears, can be easily confused for patellar tendinitis due to their similar symptoms of pain, along with swelling and tenderness around the knee.

Patellar Tendinitis
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
Meniscus Tears

Affected Area

Below the kneecap (patella), along the tendon.

Around or behind the kneecap (patella).

Inside the knee joint.


Pain, tenderness, and swelling.

Pain behind or around the kneecap, there may also be a grinding sensation.

Pain, swelling, clicking or locking of the knee joint.

Aggravating Activities

Jumping, running, squatting.

Running, climbing stairs, sitting for long periods.

Twisting, turning, squatting.

Are You or a Loved One Struggling with Patellar Tendinitis?

If you go without seeking medical attention for too long, patellar tendinitis can affect your quality of life. As the condition worsens, basic tasks can gradually become challenging. Therefore, if you suspect that you or a loved one is suffering from this condition, contact us at Avant Orthopaedics today to receive a consultation and learn about the treatments available.

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