Patellar Tendonitis (Jumper’s Knee): Causes, Symptoms, & 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 your muscles extend your knee so that you can kick a ball, run uphill and jump up in the air. Patellar tendonitis consists of inflammation of the tendon that connects the patella (knee bone) to the tibia (shinbone).

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


Patellar Tendonitis Causes - BasketballPatellar tendonitis is a common overuse injury caused by repetitive stress on your patellar tendon. The stress results in tiny tears in the tendon, which your body attempts to repair. But as the tears in the tendon multiply, they cause pain from inflammation and weakening of the tendon.

This condition is most often seen in athletes who do repetitive jumping, the reason patellar tendonitis is often called “jumper’s knee”.  Patellar tendonitis is most commonly seen in participants of sports, 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. But full recovery takes anywhere from six to 12 months after physical therapy. Knee pain may subdue 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 PainPain is the first symptom of patellar tendonitis, usually between your kneecap and where the tendon attaches to your shinbone (tibia). The pain in your knee may at first be present only as you begin physical activity or just after an intense workout. It may worsen until it begins to interfere with your ability to play your sport. Eventually, it will interfere with daily movements such as climbing stairs or rising from a chair.


Preventing jumper’s knee or patellar tendonitis is easier than one may think. First and foremost, if you start experiencing any pain or patellar tendonitis symptoms, address them immediately. If you feel any pain in the knee area, consult a doctor. Waiting will just increase the severity of the injury.

A few more ways to prevent jumper’s knee are:

  • 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


Patellar tendonitis can worsen without proper treatment. It will eventually result in degeneration of the tendon. This condition is common in many athletes and affects more than 20 percent of all jumping athletes. 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.


There are certain at-home exercises that can help speed up your recovery time. These exercises, paired with comprehensive physical therapy, will help you become pain-free.

How to Treat Patellar Tendonitis - Foam Roller

Foam Roller – Quadriceps

  • 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

Massage Stick – Quadriceps

  • 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 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 as few as 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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