Patellar Tendonitis or Jumper's Knee

The patellar tendon connects the kneecap (the patella) to the shinbone. This is part of the "extensor mechanism" of the knee. Together with the kneecap, quadriceps tendon, and the quadriceps muscle, these structures allow you to straighten your knee and provide strength for a kicking motion. The patellar tendon, like other tendons, is made of tough, fibrous bands of tissue. The tendon is surrounded by a vascular tissue lining that provides nutrition to the tendon.

Man in athletic clothes jumping as high as he can on white background
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Patellar Tendonitis, Tendinosis, and Tears

Patellar tendonitis occurs when the patellar tendon becomes inflamed and irritated. This problem is most often seen in athletes who do repetitive jumping—the reason patellar tendonitis is often called "jumper's knee." Patellar tendonitis is most often seen in participants of sports such as basketball and volleyball, although it can also be seen in runners and other types of athletes.

Patellar tendinosis is different from tendonitis in that it is a chronic condition. Instead of the tendon becoming inflamed and irritated, the condition is more gradual in development and characterized by microscopic tears and thickening of the tendon. Patellar tendinosis causes similar symptoms, but the treatment of this condition is different from that used for tendonitis.

Partial patellar tendon tears, a finding sometimes described on an MRI, are usually characteristic of chronic patellar tendinosis. These tears are differentiated from a complete patellar tendon tear, in which the entire tendon is ruptured and requires surgical repair.


Patellar tendonitis and tendinosis usually cause pain directly over the patellar tendon. In these cases, the tendon is usually tender and swollen. Movement of the knee may cause a crunching sensation called crepitus directly over the swollen tendon. The other common symptom of patellar tendon problems is pain with activities, especially jumping or kneeling.

X-ray tests are usually performed to confirm there is no problem with the bones around the knee. Occasionally, a calcium deposit may be seen, particularly in patients with chronic patellar tendinosis. An MRI may be helpful to look for symptoms of inflammation or partial tears within the tendon.


Treatment should be initiated once the proper diagnosis is confirmed by your healthcare provider. If the problem is acute inflammation, treatment may include the following.

  • Rest: The most important first step in treatment is to avoid activities that aggravate the problem. Your body is the best guide to know how much to rest the injured knee—if an activity hurts in the area of the injured patellar tendon, then you should rest from that activity.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, or NSAIDs, include a long list of possibilities such as Ibuprofen, Motrin, Naprosyn, Celebrex, and many others. Patellar tendonitis can be improved by these medications, which decrease pain and swelling. Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before starting these medications.
  • Stretching: Stretching the quadriceps, hamstring, and calf muscles prior to activity is very important once you do resume activities. Getting into a good stretching habit, even if your symptoms resolve, will help prevent a recurrence of the problem.
  • Ice Treatments: Icing the area of inflammation is an important aspect of tendonitis treatment. The ice will help to control the inflammation and decrease swelling. By minimizing inflammation and swelling, the tendon can return to its usual state and perform its usual function.
  • Chopat Straps/Braces: Occasionally, your healthcare provider will provide a support strap (called an infrapatellar strap or a Chopat strap), a knee brace, or custom orthotics. The benefit of these measures in the treatment of patellar tendonitis has not been carefully studied, but some patients find relief from using these products.

When the condition is chronic, treatment of inflammation is less likely to be helpful. The focus of treatment for patellar tendonitis and tendinosis is physical therapy. Eccentric exercises, in particular, may aide in treatment.

Some surgeons are also using PRP injections for the treatment of patellar tendonitis and tendinosis. These injections may help stimulate a healing reaction in the body, although there haven't yet been many studies on whether this treatment is effective.

On some occasions, patients have persistent patellar tendonitis symptoms despite the measures mentioned above. In patients with chronic patellar pain who have tried these treatments for an extended duration, surgery may be considered. Surgery is usually considered if the damaged tendon is seen on an MRI. During surgery, this damaged tendon can be repaired.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Cleveland Clinic. Patellar tendonitis.

  3. Brockmeyer M, Haupert A, Kohn D, Lorbach O. Surgical technique: jumper's knee-arthroscopic treatment of chronic tendinosis of the patellar tendon. Arthrosc Tech. 2016;5(6):e1419-e1424. doi:10.1016/j.eats.2016.08.010

  4. Michener LA, Kulig K. Not all tendons are created equal: implications for differing treatment approaches. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2015;45(11):829-832. doi:10.2519/jospt.2015.0114

  5. Unlu MC, Kivrak A, Kayaalp ME, Birsel O, Akgun I. Peritendinous injection of platelet-rich plasma to treat tendinopathy: A retrospective reviewActa Orthop Traumatol Turc. 2017;51(6):482–487. doi:10.1016/j.aott.2017.10.003

By Jonathan Cluett, MD
Jonathan Cluett, MD, is board-certified in orthopedic surgery. He served as assistant team physician to Chivas USA (Major League Soccer) and the United States men's and women's national soccer teams.