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.