Patellar Tendonitis (Jumpers Knee): Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Tendonitis can affect many joints in the body, but the knee is especially prone to this painful inflammation. Repetitive movements such as running, jumping, and squatting can cause nagging irritation known as patellar tendonitis. In this video, Ally Jackson, DC explains how Airrosti’s method differs from traditional tendonitis treatment. By treating pain directly at the source, we help get you back doing what you love, fast. Learn more about Airrosti’s approach and consistent results.


The patellar tendon plays a pivotal role in the way you use your leg muscles. It helps extend your leg muscles to perform movements like kick a ball, run uphill, and jump up in the air. Patellar tendonitis develops when the tendon that connects the patella (kneecap) to the tibia (shinbone) becomes irritated from overuse.

If you try to work through your pain, ignoring your body’s warning signs, you could cause increasingly larger tears in the patellar tendon. Pain and reduced function in the knee joint can persist if you don’t tend to the problem, and you may progress to the more severe patellar tendinopathy.


Patellar Tendonitis Causes - Basketball

Patellar tendonitis is a common overuse injury caused by repetitive stress on the patellar tendon. Continued stress on the knees can cause tiny tears to irritate the tendon. As the tears in the tendon multiply, they cause pain and weakness in the tendon.

This condition is most often seen in athletes who do repetitive jumping, which is why patellar tendonitis is often called “jumper’s knee”.  Patellar tendonitis is often seen in athletics, including basketball and volleyball, although it can also be seen in runners and other types of athletes. It accounts for about 5% of all running injuries.


Patients must follow proper treatment measures in order to heal their injury accordingly. Generally, with appropriate patellar tendonitis treatment, an injury can be resolved in about six weeks. However, full recovery can take weeks to months after physical therapy. Knee pain may subside in about three weeks, but a full recovery will be noticeable in six weeks. With time and physical therapy, stiffness will decrease, and pain will become less intense.


Patellar Tendonitis Symptoms - Knee Pain

Knee pain is a common sign of patellar tendonitis. Pain and swelling may be present between your kneecap and where the tendon attaches to your shinbone (tibia). Knee pain may at first appear only as you begin exercising or just after an intense workout. This injury can worsen over time until it begins to interfere with your daily activities. Eventually, it will interfere with daily movements such as climbing stairs or rising from a chair.


Patellar tendonitis can worsen without proper treatment. It can eventually result in degeneration of the tendon. This condition is common in many athletes and affects more than 20 percent of all jumping athletes. If you feel any pain in the knee area, consult with your doctor. Waiting will just increase the severity of the injury.

Your doctor may prescribe over-the-counter pain relievers, a patellar tendon strap, or cortisone injections. In rare cases, surgery may be recommended. You will be required to stay off the knee as much as possible while it heals, significantly limiting your activity.

Below are a few actions you can take at home to help reduce your risk of developing a knee injury like jumper’s knee:

·         Warming up and cooling down before and after exercise.

·         Wearing appropriate shoes based on the activity.

·         Increasing intensity of workouts gradually.

·         Stretching appropriate muscles.

·         Icing when necessary.


There are certain at-home exercises that can help speed up your recovery time. These exercises, paired with comprehensive physical therapy, can help reduce knee pain associated with tendonitis.

How to Treat Patellar Tendonitis - Foam Roller


  • Balance on your elbows in a plank position with your quadriceps on the foam roller
  • Brace your core and avoid arching or rounding your lumbar spine
  • Roll from just above the kneecaps to the top of the thighs
  • Scan for tender areas. Hold and oscillate over those areas until pain diminishes
  • To place a greater emphasizes on one leg cross the back leg over the other leg or just simply shift your body weight to one side
  • To isolate the medial quadriceps, widen your legs and rotate your feet out
  • To isolate the lateral quadriceps, bring your legs together, touch the toes and rotate your heels out
  • Repeat the previous instructions



  • Sit down on a chair with your knee straight
  • Use the massage stick to roll out the quadriceps on top of the thigh
  • You can roll on all the portions of the quadriceps, including the outer and inner portion
  • Spend more time on areas that are tender/tight/knotted, but avoid or modify the pressure on the areas that are painful
  • Repeat for about two minutes


Airrosti can help rapidly speed recovery, allowing you to maintain your active lifestyle and continue any athletic activities. Through our highly targeted, noninvasive manual therapy and active recovery program, we can often resolve your injury in an average of three visits based on patient-reported outcomes, and most individuals can resume normal activity right away.

Reviewed by Casey Crisp, Doctor of Chiropractic

Disclaimer: Always consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program. If you experience any numbness, tingling or reproduction of your symptoms, please contact your doctor.

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