Knee Tendonitis Information

Tendonitis of the knee runners

Knee tendonitis refers to the inflamation, swelling and irritation of tendons in the knee area. Though knee tendonitis often goes untreated, it's actually the most common form of knee injury. The knee tendons are thick cords that attach the bone to muscles. There are several large tendons around the knee area. The most common form of knee tendonitis is pes anserinus tendonitis which effects the tendons inside and at the bottom of the knee. When these tendons are inflamed it prevents the person from twisting the leg outward while running.

Anatomy of the Knee

Below you can see a detailed diagram of the knee. You can see the various tendons that run into the knee area. Knee tendonitis can affect any of these tendons but is most common in the patellar tendon group located at the front of the knee.

Knee tendonitis

Who's at Risk?

As the human body ages the tendons become brittle and lose their elasticity. This puts older people at much higher risk of developing knee tendonitis. In fact, knee tendonitis is most common in middle-aged runners. People involved in sports or activites that involve a lot of sharp movements, repeated knee strain or uneven surfaces are also at high risk. The condition is common in basketballers, footballers, runners, tennis players, snow skiiers etc.

Knee Tendonitis Symptoms

Knee tendonitis produces pain, tenderness and stiffness near a joint and is aggravated by movement. The inflamed tendons in the knee are usually painful when moved or touched, and the tendon sheaths may be visibly swollen from the accumulation of fluid and inflammation. Moving the joints near the knee tendon (even slightly) may also cause severe pain. The pain may be worse when ascending or descending stairs, when getting up from a seated position, and at night.

When the condition first develops the pain may only be mild and occur during or after exercise. If this happens you should begin treatment (see below) straight away. The earlier you begin treatment on knee tendonitis the faster it will heal.

Treating Knee Tendonitis

In most cases of knee tendonitis you will not need to see a doctor. The treatment of the condition involves rest, isolation and slowly easing back into activity. You should follow the R.I.C.E method. Here's how it works:

  1. Rest
    The first step is to rest the knee. If you feel the pain during sport, you should stop and rest immediately.
  2. Ice
    Ice is one of the best methods of reducing pain, inflammation and swelling. Ice also helps to promote blood flow to the area. You shoud apply ice to the knee straight away and then at intervals. Do not keep the ice on for longer that 20 minutes at a time and do not put the ice directly on the knee (wrap it in a towel).
  3. Compression
    Lightly compress the knee area when applying ice.
  4. Elevation
    Elevate the leg.

You should rest the knee until you no longer feel any of the symptoms. It's important that you ease back into activity slowly. After you knee has been rested, the tendon is weak and susceptible to injury.

If the above treatment does not cure the symptoms of knee tendonitis, or the tendonitis keeps reoccuring you should consult your doctor or physician immediately. Your doctor will give you a full examination and may recommend cortisone injections to help rebuild the damaged tendon. In very severe cases, surgery will be required. This rarely happens and is only used for a last resort.

Prevention Tips

Prevention is always better than a cure, and there are several easy ways you can help minimize your chance of developing knee tendonitis. Here are some of these methods:

  1. Warm Up Properly
    This is exercise 101, and is more common sense than anything. A well-structured warm up will prepare your heart, lungs, muscles, joints and your mind for strenuous activity. You should warm up for 5-10 minutes before exercise.
  2. Stretching
    Stretching helps to preserve the tendons elasticity and improves flexibility. Studies have show that adults that stretch on a daily basis have much less chance of developing tendonitis later in life. You should also stretch before and after exercise. Make sure you hold your stretch for 20 seconds and don't bounce.
  3. Strengthening
    You should work to imporve the strength in your leg muscles. Doing this will also strengthen your knee, hamstring, quadricep and patellar tendons. Strength training can have a very positive impact tendon strength.
  4. Wearing the Correct Footwear
    Be aware of the importance of good footwear. A good pair of shoes will help to keep your knees stable, provide adequate cushioning, and support your knees and lower leg during the running or walking motion.
  5. Strapping/Bracing the Knee
    Strapping provides extra support to the knee. You should only use strapping occasionally or when you are recovering from knee tendonitis. The reason is because if you use strapping all the time your knee will rely on it for support and will not get stronger.
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