Tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendon fibers, which attach muscles to bones. In the upper extremities common sites are the shoulders and elbows. In the lower legs, the Achilles and the patellar area are the common sites.
Pain is the most common symptom and in knee tendons the area between the kneecap and the shinbone is usually the primary area.
Tendonitis is caused by repetitive stress on the tendon. Repeated jumps are commonly associated with knee tendonitis (patellar tendonitis). This problem can occur in professional athletes as well as the “weekend warrior”. Excessive and repetitive flexion and extension of the knee causes the tendon fibers microscopically tear and inflame. The risk of getting knee tendonitis increases with age as the muscles and tendons get more brittle and lose their elastic properties. Poor technique in any motion can overload these tissues and increase the risk for tendon inflammation.
Most cases of knee tendonitis are self-limiting and do not require medical intervention. Rest is normally enough to allow the tissue to repair itself. However if the pain persists and proper diagnosis and care is not given, this tendon can tear and ultimately lead to complete rupture where surgical reattachment is the only option.
Chronic tendonitis is a problem caused by continued use of an already inflamed area. This is a very difficult problem to treat and will take a long time if ever to fully recover.