Patellar tendonitis, also known as jumper’s knee, is a common injury affecting the tendon connecting the kneecap (patella) to the shinbone (tibia). This condition often affects athletes who do a lot of jumping, such as basketball and volleyball players. However, it can affect anyone who engages in activities that put repeated stress on the knees. For athletes, it can impact their performance and may even lead to time away from their sport.

This blog aims to provide an understanding of patellar tendonitis, including its symptoms, causes, risk factors, treatment options, and ways to prevent it. By learning more about this condition, you can better manage it and avoid further injury.

Symptoms of Patellar Tendonitis (Jumper’s Knee)

Patellar tendonitis typically presents with several symptoms that can affect daily activities and athletic performance. Common symptoms include:

Pain Below the Kneecap

Pain is usually felt in the front of the knee, just below the kneecap. It can range from a dull ache to a sharp, severe pain, especially when jumping, running, or climbing stairs. Over time, the pain can become constant and more painful, affecting daily activities like walking and sitting down. The tenderness around the patellar tendon increases when pressing on it.

Swelling Below the Kneecap

Swelling around the patellar tendon is common, particularly after physical activity such as running, jumping or walking. The swelling is usually located right below the kneecap, causing the area to appear puffy or inflamed. This swelling can contribute to the overall discomfort and pain.

Stiff or Weak Knees

Stiffness in the knee, especially after inactivity, can make it difficult to bend or straighten the knee fully, impacting mobility. As patellar tendonitis progresses, the affected knee may feel weak, reducing mobility and making regular activities like squatting or jumping challenging.

Causes and Risk Factors of Patellar Tendonitis (Jumper’s Knee)

Patellar tendonitis is primarily caused by repetitive stress on the patellar tendon, which can cause pain and inflammation. Several factors can contribute, including:

Knee Overuse

Engaging in sports or activities such as basketball, volleyball, and soccer, which involve frequent jumping, running, or sudden direction changes, can put excessive strain on the patellar tendon.

Muscle Imbalance

Imbalances in the strength of the thigh muscles (quadriceps and hamstrings) can increase the strain on the patellar tendon. Weak thigh muscles or tight hamstrings can change how the knee moves, leading to increased stress on the tendon.

Improper Technique

Incorrect techniques during sports or exercise increase the risk of patellar tendonitis. For example, wrong landing techniques during jumping can increase the load on the tendon.

Inadequate Warm-up

Skipping warm-up exercises before physical activity can make the patellar tendon more likely to get injured. Warm-up exercises, such as lunges and stretching, can help prepare the muscles and tendons for the actual workout.

Age and Physical Condition

Younger athletes are more prone to patellar tendonitis due to their high activity levels and growth. However, it can also affect older adults, particularly those who remain physically active. Those with tight leg muscles or limited flexibility are also at higher risk.

Treatment Options for Patellar Tendonitis (Jumper’s Knee)

The choice of treatment depends on the severity of the condition. Here are the common treatment options:

Non-Surgical Treatments

Early intervention and compliance with treatment protocols are important for a successful recovery.

Rest and Lifestyle Modifications

Resting the affected knee and avoiding activities that cause the pain are important first steps. Reducing or modifying activities that put stress on the patellar tendon can help prevent further damage and allow healing to begin.

Ice Therapy

Applying ice to the affected area can help reduce pain and inflammation. Ice packs should be used for 15-20 minutes several times a day, especially after activities that trigger symptoms.


Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol can help manage pain and reduce inflammation. These medications should be used as directed by the orthopaedic surgeon.

Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Injections

PRP therapy involves injecting concentrated platelets into the affected area. The growth factors in the platelets can promote healing and reduce inflammation.

Corticosteroid Injections

In some cases, corticosteroid injections can reduce severe inflammation and pain. These injections should be used cautiously, as they can weaken the tendon over time.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy plays an important role in strengthening the muscles around the knee, improving flexibility, and correcting muscle imbalances. Focus on exercises that extend the muscle under tension. These involve the quadriceps and hamstrings to reduce strain on the patellar tendon.

Surgical Treatment

In cases where patellar tendonitis has led to significant damage and conservative treatments are ineffective, surgical intervention might be considered.

Knee Replacement Surgery

This procedure involves replacing the damaged knee joint with an artificial one to restore function and alleviate pain. Knee replacement is normally recommended when other treatments have failed to provide relief, and the condition severely impacts the patient’s quality of life.

Prevention Strategies for Patellar Tendonitis (Jumper’s Knee)

Patellar tendonitis may be prevented by reducing knee stress and promoting tendon health. Here are some effective prevention strategies:

Proper Warm-up and Technique

Always warm up before engaging in physical activity. A proper warm-up, such as light jogging or stretches increases blood flow to the muscles and tendons, preparing them for exercise and reducing the risk of injury. Using proper techniques during running, jumping or lifting weights is important. Maintain proper form to avoid patellar tendon tension.

Strengthening and Flexibility Exercises

Regularly do exercises that strengthen the muscles around the knee, particularly the quadriceps and hamstrings. Stronger muscles can better support the knee and reduce the strain on the patellar tendon. Recommended exercises include squats, leg presses, hamstring curls, and stretching before and after exercise.

Balanced Training and Rest

Combine various exercises into your training routine to avoid overuse of the patellar tendon. Cross-training with low-impact activities like swimming or cycling can help. Give yourself time to rest and recover between intense workouts. Rest is important for patellar tendon repair and strengthening.

Use of Orthotics

Consider using orthotic devices, such as shoe inserts, to correct any issues that may contribute to patellar tendonitis like feet rolling inward or flat feet. Custom orthotics are tailored to a person’s foot shape, providing support and alignment. This adjustment distributes pressure evenly across the foot and decreases patellar tendon strain, reducing discomfort and preventing further damage.


Patellar tendonitis, or jumper’s knee, is a common overuse injury that can affect everyday life. Understanding the symptoms, causes, and risk factors of patellar tendonitis is important for effective treatment. A range of treatment options, from rest and physical therapy to medical interventions such as injections and surgery, can help manage the condition. Preventive measures are recommended to reduce the risk of developing patellar tendonitis.

By following these guidelines and seeking appropriate medical advice from an orthopaedic surgeon, people can effectively manage patellar tendonitis and maintain an active, healthy lifestyle. Early intervention and prevention measures are key to long-term knee health.