Patellar tendonitis is the inflammation of the patellar tendon, which attaches your quadriceps muscle (thigh muscle) to your tibia (shinbone). Patellar tendonitis can occur as a result of injury, overuse or aging, states MedlinePlus. You may notice pain below or behind your kneecap when walking or standing. In addition, you may notice swelling along the tendon. Patellar tendonitis is commonly treated with conservative measures; however, surgery may be necessary if the tendon is ruptured.
The inflammation in your patellar tendon will usually subside with rest. If you are experiencing patellar tendonitis, avoid excessive bending of your knee, such as when squatting. In addition, take a break from lower body resistance training and running or jogging. Once your pain subsides after a few days, you can ease into light exercise, but do not overdo it.
Ice therapy is effective in reducing inflammation, pain and swelling along your patellar tendon. Ice shrinks the blood vessels in that area, which decreases the amount of fluid that can collect with inflammation. Ice will also numb the area, and reduce your pain. Apply an ice pack or a pack of frozen vegetables to the injured tendon for 20 minutes. Then, remove the ice for 20 minutes. Repeat this cycle as often as possible within the first three days of the onset of your patellar tendonitis.
According to the Mayo Clinic, you can use over-the-counter pain relievers and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Advil, Aleve or Motrin, to treat your patellar tendonitis. Choose NSAIDs over Tylenol, because NSAIDs can reduce the inflammation in your tendon, unlike Tylenol. Use these medications as directed on their labels, because they can cause serious side effects or damage to your liver or kidneys.
Your doctor may also recommend a corticosteroid injection into your knee to help alleviate your symptoms. This procedure can be effective, because the corticosteroid will reduce the inflammation around your patellar tendon, which may ease your symptoms. Pain can range from minimal to mild, based on your tolerance and the experience of your doctor. There is also a slight risk of infection from the injection that you should consider. These injections can only be performed every three months, because they can cause damage to your knee joint if overused.
Your doctor may recommend that you visit a physical therapist to treat your patellar tendonitis. A physical therapist will teach you exercises that you can do during your visit and at home to treat your patellar tendonitis. Physical therapy can be quite effective if you make a commitment to performing your exercises often and as directed. Be sure to apply an ice pack to your patellar tendon after completing a set of exercises to prevent swelling or inflammation from occurring.
Surgeons will rarely perform surgery for patellar tendonits; however, they will perform surgery if your patellar tendon is torn or ruptured, states the Mayo Clinic. A risk of infection, nerve damage or chronic pain is associated with a patellar tendon repair. Discuss these pros and cons with your doctor before choosing to have your patellar tendon surgically repaired.