Quadriceps Tendonitis Information

Quadriceps tendonitis is the inflammation and irritation of the quadriceps tendon. The quadriceps tendonconnects the large quadriceps muscle to the knee. Quadriceps tendonitis is a very common condition amoungst athletes and sports peoplewho are involved in activites that place excess strain and the knees and legs. The information on this page will help your recognise the symptoms of quadriceps tendonitis, treat them and prevent them returning.

Quadriceps Tendon Anatomy

The kneecap (also known at the patella) is a small bone in the front of the knee. It glides up and down a groove in the thigh bone (femur) as the knee bends and straightens. Tendons connect muscles to bone. The quadriceps muscles on the front of the thigh attach to the top of the patella via the quadriceps tendon. This tendon covers the patella and continues down to form the "rope-like" patellar tendon. The diagram below shows the quadriceps tendon circled in red.

Quad Tendonitis Diagram

Quadriceps Tendonitis Causes

Quadriceps tendonitis usually occurs as a result of overdoing an activity and placing too much stress on the quadriceps tendon before it is strong enough to handle the stress. This is often the case when an athlete is returning to training after a period of rest. This overuse results in 'micro tears' in the quadriceps tendon which leads to inflammation and pain. Over time damage to the quadriceps tendon can occur. In extreme cases, the quadriceps tendon may become damaged to the point of complete rupture.

Common Symptoms

Common symptoms of quadriceps tendonitis include:

  1. Pain when you move your knee, due to friction as the tendon moves over the knee, could be an indication you have quadriceps tendonitis. The pain is usually slight, but will get wose as the condition develops.
  2. Swelling around the area where the quadriceps muscle meets the knee.
  3. A feeling or "warmth" or "burning" in the area.
  4. Stiffness of the knee. Especially during and after exercise, at night and first thing in the morning.
  5. Localized tendorness that increases as you move your knee.

Treating The Condition

The best way to start to treat your quadriceps tendonitis is to rest. Best will allow the tendon to repair and the inflammationto go down. In most cases you will have to rest the affected area for about 4-6 weeks. It's important that you let your quadriceps tendon fully recover. If you fail to do this there's a good chance the tendonitis will come back.

To help ease the pain and swelling you can apply ice to the area, use ice massaging techniques or take over the counter anti-inflammatory medication. Remember you should not apply ice directly to the area, always wrap the ice in a towel. Ice should only be applied in 20 minute intervals.

Once you have rested your knee until the symptoms have fully healed it's imprtant you ease back into exercise. Your tendons would have become slightly brittle due to the inactivity and are susceptable to developing tendonitis quite easily.

If you follow the above steps and your tendonitis symptoms do not subside you should see a doctor about it. You may require further treatment like cortisone injections or in extreme cases surgery.

Prevention Techniques

There are several ways you can limit your chance of getting quadriceps tendonitis. Simply warming up and stretching before exercise is a good start. When exercising, know your limits and don't overdo it. If you are involved in sports that place excess strain on your knees you may want to consider getting a kness support brace for extra suport. Footwear is also important, always wear footwear that's suited for your sport. 

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