As an athlete and regular exercise fanatic, I have had my share of strains and pains. I have even endured injury to my knee as a result of trying to be the consummate kick-boxer. Although it was great exercise, I failed in my attempt to prove to my three young songs that I am invincible! My injury was limited to a cracked tibia and a torn meniscus. I had never heard of another knee injury called “jumper’s knee,” so I had to investigate. Its fancy medical term is patellar tendinopathy, but I prefer the more colloquial “jumper’s knee.” It is so much easier to pronounce and spell. However, I suppose if you want to impress someone with your sports injury, you could call it by its rightful name.
The patella tendon joins the kneecap to the shin bone, also known as the tibia. This is an incredibly strong tendon that enables the quadriceps muscles to straighten the leg. This tendon endures significant stress, especially in people who regularly place extra strain on the knee joint. It is usually associated with individuals involved in sports that require changes in physical direction or certain jumping movements. Those who play basketball, volleyball, or soccer, which require explosive jumping movements, are at risk for this condition. When the strain is consistent, small tears, along with the degeneration of collagen, may occur in the tendon. This condition is markedly different than tendonitis, which is an inflammation of the tendon. Jumper’s knee, tendinopathy, refers to the degeneration of the tendon.
Several symptoms may present when this condition occurs. The individual may notice pain at the bottom and at the front of the kneecap, more specifically when pressing in or palpating. After physical exertion, she may notice pain as she contracts her quadriceps. The affected tendon may seem larger than the unaffected one. There may also be an appreciable difference in calf strength.
There are four grades of injuries associated with jumper’s knee. With Grade 1, the individual notices pain only after training. With Grade 2, there is pain before and after training, but once the person is warmed up, the pain subsides. In Grade 3, there is pain during training that compromises the athlete’s performance. With a Grade 4 diagnosis, the pain is consistent throughout every day activities.
Some athletes simply see this as nagging pain and continue to work through it. However, if ignored to the point where it becomes chronic, it can become far more difficult to treat and may even require surgical intervention to correct.
The treatment methods for jumper’s knee depend on the grade associated with it. Obviously, one should rest from training for a period of time. The use of an ice pack after any form of physical activity will help. Wearing a knee support or a jumper’s knee strap can help to reduce the pain and reduce the continual strain on the tendon. Sports massage therapy may be a good approach. Sometimes, eccentric strengthening is needed. If any of these conservative measures do not work, surgery may be necessary.
It may take several months of rehabilitation to notice any marked difference in the symptoms. Such rehabilitation measures may include strengthening of the quadriceps muscles. Muscles strengthening of the calf muscles may also be necessary. These types of exercises are believed to decrease the amount of load on the patellar tendon.
Surgery is a last resort measure. In fact, there is little evidence to support the notion that surgical intervention is superior to the more conservative approach for patellar tendinopathy. Plus, after surgery, intense rehabilitative exercises are necessary in order to stimulate healing. The overall goal of surgery is to remove any damaged tissue from the tendon and to get the blood flowing again to stimulate healing.
So, I have kicked the kick-boxing habit. I still run and cycle. Maybe I will take up swimming more aggressively now. My only risk of injury in that is swimming out of my designated lane into another lane, running into someone else. Without my contacts in, I am blind as a bat!
(Information from this article was found at www.sportsinjuryclinic.net)