What Is Knee Tendonitis?
Knee tendonitis refers to the irritation, swelling, and inflammation of the tendons in the knee area. Knee tendons are thick cords that attach the bone to the muscles. Several tendons are in the knee region, but the one that is most often affected is the patellar tendon group, which is located at the front of the knee.
Individuals most at risk for knee tendonitis include people who play sports or engage in activities that involve sharp movements or repetitive knee strain, such as runners, football players, tennis players, and basketball players. Older people are also at higher risk because the tendons become brittle and lose their elasticity with age.
Symptoms of Knee Tendonitis
People with knee tendonitis experience pain, stiffness, and tenderness near the knee joint, and these symptoms are aggravated by movement. The pain can be worse when getting up from a seated position, when using stairs, and at night. Inflamed tendons in the knee are usually painful when touched or moved, and the area may be visibly swollen from the accumulation of fluid and inflammation.
When knee tendonitis first develops, the pain may be mild and occur only during or after exercise. It is important to begin treatment immediately when pain begins, because early treatment means knee tendonitis will heal faster.
Treatment of Tendonitis
Most people who have knee tendonitis do not need to see a doctor. Treatment of tendonitis typically involves the RICE method: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.
- Rest the knee as soon as you feel pain, even if it happens while playing sports. Continue to rest the knee until you no longer feel any symptoms.
- Ice the knee immediately and at intervals, about once an hour and never for more than 20 minutes at a time.
- Lightly compress the knee area when you apply the ice.
- Elevate your leg.
If the RICE approach does not bring about significant improvement after a few days, or if knee tendonitis keeps recurring, consult your doctor. You may need cortisone injections to help rebuild the damaged tendon. Surgery is rarely necessary.