Patella Tendinopathy

What is patella tendinopathy?

It is characterised by structural changes of the patella tendon in response to a change in load. This could be a change in type, intensity, or duration of physical training. Another contributing factor is where there is no rest period after physical activity, which leads to breakdown of the tendon.
Over time, the tendon thickens in an attempt to manage the increase in load more effectively and it becomes painful and weak.
Depending on the stage of the tendinopathy, these structural changes are reversible and can respond well to physiotherapy management.

                      Patella tendon inflammation

How does it get injured?

  • A sudden increase in weight-bearing activities, particularly walking, running or jumping, including returning to sport or change in workload.
  • It is also common in sports where you have frequent change of direction (netball, basketball, rugby, soccer, etc).
  • Inadequate or unsupportive footwear.
  • Muscle imbalances of the lower limb putting force onto the patella.
  • Poor lower limb biomechanics (the way it moves).
  • Poor foot biomechanics including over-pronation, excess eversion of the foot and excessive subtalar and ankle varus rotation.
  • Weakness of quadriceps muscles.
  • Incomplete rehabilitation following an acute knee or ankle injury.
  • History of knee or patella injuries.
  • Direct trauma.

How is it diagnosed?

Your physio will test numerous things including the range of knee motion, patella movement, the strength of the surrounding muscles as well as feeling the muscles and tendon. Sometimes if your physio deems necessary, imaging may be done.

What can Back in Action do to help?

Back in Action Physiotherapists will give you advice on how to manage your injury, this typically will require you to change your training. The aim will initially be to stop overloading the tendon and allow it to begin to heal. They will also give you some gentle strengthening exercises which they will progress as your muscles become stronger. Your physio may also address other weaknesses in the back, pelvis and  lower limb that could have contributed to you developing the tendinopathy.

Your physiotherapist will do some hands on treatment which could involve massage to help release any tight muscles. Some patients may also require other treatment modalities, such as taping, a brace or compression bandage to help off load the tendon.