Overuse problems of the knee structures can lead to strain, irritation, and / or injury of the quadriceps muscle and tendon. This produces pain, weakness, and swelling of the knee joint. Quadriceps tendonitis is a condition characterized by tissue damage and inflammation of the quadriceps tendon. This generally occurs at the quadriceps’ attachment to the top of the kneecap causing pain in the front of the knee, just above the kneecap.
Quadriceps muscle originates from the pelvis and thigh bone (femur) and inserts into the top of the kneecap (patella) which in turn attaches to the top of the tibia (shin bone) through the patella tendon. This condition can occur at any age, but it’s more common in older athletes.
What are the causes of Quadriceps Tendonitis?
Most often, quadriceps tendonitis occurs due to repetitive stress placed on the supporting structures of the knee. Running, jumping, kicking, squatting, and quick jerky sprints and stops contribute to this condition. The most common cause of quadriceps tendonitis is overuse injury from sports activities. However, anyone can be affected with this condition, even those who do not participate in sports or recreational activities. It is also particularly common in sports that require frequent acceleration and deceleration or repetitive jumping (such as basketball or netball).
Additionally, patients may develop this condition suddenly due to high force going through the quadricep tendon beyond what it can withstand. This can occur during rapid acceleration whilst running, when landing from a height, or due to a direct blow to the quadriceps tendon.
Signs and Symptoms:
Typically, patients with quadriceps tendonitis experience pain that develops gradually at the front of the knee just above the kneecap. Occasionally, local swelling and a feeling of knee weakness may also be present particularly when attempting to accelerate whilst running or attempting to perform a squat. Other symptoms may include pain on firmly touching the quadriceps tendon and in some cases pain or limping may be experienced by the patient while walking. Upon stretching the quadriceps, pain or stiffness may also be experienced.
How can Physical Therapy help?
Ignoring the symptoms of quadriceps tendonitis by adopting a ‘no pain, no gain’ attitude is likely to lead the condition to become chronic. Appropriate and immediate treatment is essential for patients experiencing quadriceps tendonitis to ensure a speedy recovery. Healing slows down once the condition becomes chronic, which significantly results in markedly increased recovery times and an increased likelihood of future recurrence.
The aim of physiotherapy is to decrease the inflammation and pain in the knee. Initially, simply icing your knee can assist with the inflammation and relieve a great deal of pain. Depending on the severity, your physiotherapist may also use electrical modalities such as ultrasound or interferential current to help decrease pain and control the amount of inflammation. For the injury to heal, some mild inflammation is actually needed.
Our physiotherapist may even give you a massage, especially to your quadriceps muscle, which may be helpful. He may closely work with your doctor to obtain their advice on the use of medication if required. Contact our team of special physiotherapists in Edmonton, if you or anyone you know is suffering from Quadriceps Tendonitis.