If left untreated, tendonitis knee pain can affect your ability to complete normal daily activities. It can also alter the way you move which puts surrounding tissues at risk for further injury and impairment. While the right attention can heal tendonitis of the knee quickly, understanding symptoms and treatments is important to making a full recovery.
Tendons are strong bands of tissue that connect muscles to bone. They can become inflamed with injury or overuse. Tendonitis in the knee most often refers to patellar tendonitis, or jumper’s knee, which affects the tendons that connect the kneecap to the rest of the joint itself and the quadriceps muscles.
Other common sites for tendonitis around the knee joint include the tendons of hamstrings in the back of the knee and the front thigh muscles above the knee cap. In any of these cases, tendonitis results from microscopic damage or tears in the muscle that become inflamed. While the correct treatment usually leads to a speedy recovery, it’s important to treat your tendonitis knee as a serious condition to prevent further aggravation and disability.
Understanding what to do for tendonitis in the knee begins with determining the cause of your injury. Most often, tendonitis comes on gradually, over the course of weeks, months, or years with high impact activities like jumping. Excessive exercise, a rapid increase in exercise intensity, a gait abnormality, or improper footwear can all contribute to the injury.
The most common symptoms of tendonitis in the knee joints are pain and minor loss of joint function. However, the symptoms can vary widely depending on the particular tendons affected and the severity of the injury. Below is a complete list of tendonitis knee symptoms:
Knee tendonitis pain typically presents as a mild burning, which is the worst when squatting, jumping, navigating stairs, or standing up.
Another common symptom of knee tendonitis is swelling secondary to tissue damage and the body’s attempt to heal these affected areas.
Reduced range of motion is another of the most common signs of tendonitis in the knee. Without regular joint range of motion during recovery, the joint may feel tight or even lock up.
Whenever there is pain present, weakness of affected muscles tend to follow. This can affect normal daily activities like walking and squatting.
Often, a physical examination is enough to determine if knee tendonitis is what’s causing your knee pain and symptoms. A doctor or physical therapist will assess your leg strength, flexibility, coordination and palpate affected areas to get a deep understanding of your underlying issues. Only if more extensive injuries are suspected, such as a fracture or a ligament tear, will ordering imaging tests like an X-ray or MRI be considered.
How long it will take to recover from knee tendonitis ultimately depends on how quickly you address your symptoms. Additionally, the severity of your symptoms will play a role too. In general, with a typical mild to moderate injury you can expect recovery within four to six weeks with diligent treatment. Yet, there can be lingering knee symptoms for up to six months as you work through the recovery process.
Often, treatment is started at home with basic modalities to manage pain and swelling. From there, more in-depth options can be initiated. In many cases, physical therapy for knee tendonitis is recommended to effectively address the injury. If more invasive options are needed, your doctor may recommend medication, injections, or even surgery as a last resort.
Preventing further injury is the most important part of any recovery process. Injury is the best predictor of future damage. Keep these tips in mind to promote long-term leg health.
Learning how to treat tendonitis in the knee can be straightforward with the right understanding and guidance. Luckily, this knee injury is completely manageable as long as you remain loyal to a treatment program. With a professional diagnosis, regular exercise, and a potential brace, tendonitis knee won’t keep you down long.
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