What Is Jumper’s Knee?
Jumper’s knee is a frequent type of injury that most often affects athletes who perform activities involving a lot of jumps or kicks. From the thigh muscle (the quadriceps), a large tendon runs across your kneecap and connects to the kneecap on your shin. It is this tendon (the kneecap tendon, or ligamentum patellae) that becomes irritated and damaged when you suffer from jumper’s knee.
Causes of Jumper's Knee
The function of the thigh muscle and the kneecap tendon is to stretch the knee. Both of these muscles are therefore used extensively for both setting off and landing when jumping and running. The pain felt by those suffering from jumper’s knee is caused by overloading the knee through, for example, repetitious movements that strain the tendon or any kind of increase in activity level that exceeds the tolerance of the tissue in the tendon.
With age, the kneecap becomes more rigid and this can increase the risk of injury. When the kneecap tendon is overloaded, it becomes inflamed - a sterile inflammation that produces swelling and soreness in the tendon.
Symptoms of Jumper's knee
Symptoms of jumper’s knee typically consist of pain in the bottom tip of the kneecap that arises at the start and end of physical activity. The pain usually subsides as the knee warms up. Some people will experience pain from performing everyday activities like walking up and down stairs.
It is important to take these symptoms seriously. If they are ignored and the kneecap tendon continues to be overloaded, the injury will become worse.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Jumper's Knee
Jumper’s knee is caused by overloading the knee. The first thing you can do to treat your injury is to avoid performing any activity that triggers pain. Typically, such activities will include jumping, kicking and running. By relieving your knee, you let your body get to work on healing the muscle and tendon damage.
In addition to pain relief, it is important that you rehabilitate. If you suffer from jumper’s knee and you would like to return to performing the activities that triggered your injury (e.g. sports), then there is no way around the need to perform your rehabilitation exercises.
Use the Injurymap screening tool to find out if you are ready to treat your knee pain with rehabilitative exercises.
Rehabilitating jumper’s knee means placing special emphasis on slow and heavy strength-building exercises, as well as exercises that stretch the thigh muscles. However, it is important that you do not increase the load around your kneecap tendon too quickly. Additional mobility and flexibility exercises should be performed to create the optimal conditions for the kneecap to work in and help prevent future injuries.
In the examples below, you can see some of the most common exercises used to treat jumper’s knee.