The patellar tendon plays an important role in the stabilization and mobility of the knee joint. It connects the largest thigh muscle (quadriceps femoris) with the tibia via the kneecap (patella) and is thus stressed at every flexion and extension of the knee. Overloading or incorrect loading, for example during sports, can lead to irritation of the patella tendon - the so-called patellar tendon syndrome. A patellar tendon tear, on the other hand, usually occurs only in case of damage to the tendon or as a result of an accident.
Patellar tendon syndrome - irritation of the patellar tendon
Continuous overload of the patellar tendon can lead to the so-called patellar tendon syndrome. This is a wear disorder that causes chronic irritation at the junction of bone and tendon. Most affected are athletes, but also people who often work in knee flexion.
Patellar tendon syndrome is also called "jumping knee" or "jumpers knee" because the patellar tendon is particularly stressed by abrupt movements in sports such as basketball, volleyball or long jump.
Symptoms of such patellar tendon irritation include knee pain associated with stress such as climbing stairs or going downhill. Even at rest or after a long knee flexion pain may occur, as well as when tightening the quadriceps muscle.
Protection and physiotherapy important
In the case of an acute patellar tendon syndrome, first relief is the most important measure. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, you should therefore abstain from sports for at least six weeks to three months. Painkillers such as ibuprofen or diclofenac relieve the symptoms, but you should not take them for more than a few days without a doctor's prescription.
For severe pain, an orthopedist may inject a local anesthetic or cortisone to the patellar tendon.
Also important is a physiotherapeutic treatment in which the tendon tissue is loosened by massages and stretching exercises. Under certain circumstances, physical methods such as ultrasound treatment or shockwave therapy may be useful.
Patellar tendril taping
A bandage or tape can help to alleviate patellar tendon syndrome by stabilizing the joint. Let the tape show your physiotherapist, then you can independently renew the tape bandage at home. Alternatively, there are different types of bandages that are simply pulled over the knee.
A special form of taping is the so-called kinesio tape. These are usually colorful self-adhesive strips of plaster, which are stuck in a certain way on and around the knee. The effect is less based on stabilization than on an increase in blood flow achieved by pulling the patch on the skin.
Patellar tendon tear: Sudden pain and loss of strength
A tear of the patellar tendon is a relatively rare injury. Most elderly people are affected by certain diseases such as diabetes mellitus, which reduces the tendon strength or has a previously damaged patellar tendon due to previous injuries or surgery.
Then, for example, a sudden heavy effort or muscle tension can result in a patellar tendon tear. Even in the case of a fall or an accident, the patella tendon may tear.
This is manifested by a sudden pain in connection with a loss of strength in the leg - the extension of the leg is no longer possible or limited. In addition, there is a so-called patella high: The fact that the patella is no longer fixed by the patellar tendon, it is a few inches higher than normal.
The diagnosis is then confirmed by an X-ray and possibly an MRI scan.
A completely torn patellar tendon requires surgery. Because the patellar tendon can not grow together by pulling the thigh muscle on the kneecap. Therefore, it is sewn in an operation and the suture secured by a wire loop.
If the patellar tendon is torn only to a small extent, non-surgical treatment may be possible. Here, the knee is immobilized in a rail and may not be charged or only partially loaded for a few weeks.