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Symptoms. Patellar Tendinitis

By Editorial Team (A)
November 29, 2021
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Patellar tendonitis symptoms

The first symptom associated with patellar tendinitis is usually knee pain. This pain may: 

  • Initially only occur when the activity first starts or immediately following an episode of intense activity
  • Gradually become more intense, until it significantly disrupts your physical activity 
  • Eventually, disrupt even your normal routines of daily life 

When to see a doctor

For occasional episodes of knee pain, you can try simple treatments like resting your knee and avoiding activities that cause pain. In addition, try applying ice or cold packs and elevating the leg that is affected above heart level to reduce any associated swelling.

Call your healthcare professional if knee pain:

  • Persists or gets worse, despite self-care treatments. It could indicate patellar tendinitis.
  • Is accompanied by other symptoms, such as severe swelling or any redness or increased warmth around the knee joint 
  • Is disrupting your ability to perform your normal tasks of daily life

Any of these symptoms could indicate patellar tendinitis or a more severe condition.

Patellar tendonitis diagnosis

When you see your doctor for knee pain, the specialist may apply pressure to your knee in various locations to determine the exact location of the pain. If the pain is located just below the kneecap, on the front of the knee, it may be likely that patellar tendinitis is causing the discomfort.

Imaging tests

Doctors sometimes recommend imaging tests to help diagnose patellar tendinitis or rule out other conditions that can cause knee pain. Such tests may include: 

  • X-rays. X-rays are used mainly to help rule out conditions other than patellar tendonitis that can cause knee pain. X-rays can reveal problems with the bones and joints, such as arthritis. 
  • Ultrasound. This imaging study that uses sound waves can detect tears in the tendon of the knee that lead to patellar tendonitis. 
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). An MRI uses a strong magnet and radio waves rather than X-rays and provides highly detailed images of the soft structures of the knee, including the tendons, muscles, and ligaments. 

Complications of patellar tendonitis

Working through the pain of patellar tendonitis or ignoring the warning signs your body sends you can cause even larger tears to occur in the patellar tendon. These will lead to loss of function and increased pain if the problem is not addressed. The final result could be a more severe condition: patellar tendinopathy.

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