What is Jumper's Knee?

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  • Written By: Alison Faria
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 14 March 2020
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Jumper's knee, also known as patellar tendinopathy, is a degenerative tendon condition that causes pain and discomfort in the front of the knee. The patellar tendon attaches the kneecap to the shin bone. This tendon can become stressed due to frequent jumping or changes in direction, as sometimes happens in sports. Collagen degeneration and micro-tears can occur if the tendon is repeatedly strained, causing pain.

There are several possible symptoms of jumper's knee. Pain can be experienced when the front and the bottom of the kneecap is pressed. After physical exertion, the knee can feel stiff or achy. Pain also can be experienced when the muscles around the knee are contracted, specifically the quadriceps muscles.

The patellar tendon has two sides to it. When the tendon is affected with jumper's knee, the unaffected side of the tendon usually appears smaller than the swollen side. In this situation, ice packs applied to the affected area can usually help reduce swelling. Weakness in the calf muscles can also be experienced with jumper's knee. Strengthening the calf muscles can often take some pressure off the patellar tendon, alleviating some discomfort.

Some athletes with jumper's knee might feel pain only after they have been training for a long period of time. Other athletes sometimes feel pain before and after training, but don't feel much pain during the actual training because the muscles have been warmed up. Pain can also be felt doing daily activities.


When a person has jumper's knee, they might consider it to only be a slight injury and continue to exercise or compete in sports. Typically, if the tendon is rested between activities, it can recuperate. If the tendon is not rested, additional treatment might be needed.

A jumper's knee brace can alleviate some strain on the tendons during sports or exercise. Moderating the amount of impact the tendon gets during athletic activities can also be beneficial. People can also choose to get a sports massage from a sports injury specialist. If these methods don't work, surgery might be considered.

Surgery can involve an excision of the affected area. Lateral release techniques can be another surgical option, in which small cuts are made on the tendon's sides to alleviate pressure. Rehabilitation is often required after surgery and is typically given in the form of various strengthening exercises.



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