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Knee painTendonitis (also spelled tendinitis) is the inflammation of a tendon. A tendon is a thick cord made up of tiny fibers that connect muscles to bones. When people have inflamed or irritated tendons, they may experience pain, tenderness and mild swelling near the affected joint. Tendonitis can happen in any tendon in the body, but it’s most likely to occur in shoulders, knees, elbows, wrists, and heels.

Knee tendonitis results from an irritated or inflamed tendon in the knee, which can cause significant pain. You may have heard of knee tendonitis referred to as runner’s knee or jumper’s knee. A common type of knee tendonitis is called patellar tendonitis, which happens when the tendon that connects your kneecap (patella) to your shin gets injured.

Tendonitis is usually caused by repetitive motions in your knee that put excessive stress on a tendon, such as playing a sport or doing physical labor. 

How does knee tendonitis happen?

Tendonitis is common in people who play certain sports, like volleyball or basketball. Activities that involve repetitive running, jumping, and squatting can put extra stress on the patellar tendon in the knee. This causes tiny tears over time that inflame and weaken the tendon, which can lead to tendonitis. 

Tendonitis can be more common when people who do these activities have:

  • Tight muscles in their legs
  • Uneven muscles strength 
  • Misaligned feet or ankles
  • Obesity 
  • Chronic diseases that weaken the tendon
  • Shoes without enough padding

What are the symptoms of knee tendonitis?

Symptoms of knee tendonitis include:

  • Knee mobility issues
  • Dull pain in your knee during physical activity
  • Tenderness and swelling
  • Pain that slowly begins to interfere with daily activities

The first symptom is often pain in the front of your knee at the base of the knee cap. At first, it may only be noticeable after intense physical activity. But the pain can worsen over time and begin to make your sport or workouts difficult. It may eventually start to interfere with your daily life. 

How do doctors diagnose knee tendonitis?

If your doctor thinks you could have knee tendonitis, they will start by giving you a physical examination. Your doctor will examine your knee, putting pressure on it to see where it hurts, and testing your range of motion (to see how well your knee moves). Your doctor may also ask you questions about your medical history and the kind of sports you play or physical activity you do.

Your doctor may also give you other tests to look more closely at your knee or rule out other conditions, such as a bone fracture. This could include:

  • X-ray
  • MRI
  • Ultrasound

Beaumont offers treatment for knee tendonitis

Beaumont knee specialists can help you determine the best course of action for your knee tendonitis. Treatment depends on how serious your condition is. Many people with knee tendonitis can care for it on their own by using RICE therapy (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) and taking over-the-counter pain medication. But some people may need to see a doctor to get relief. Beaumont’s knee care team will work with you to develop a nonsurgical treatment plan — which may include a pain management program and physical therapy. You’ll receive the kind of expert care you can expect from a top orthopedic program. 

If you are experiencing more serious complications from knee tendonitis, you and your doctor may decide knee surgery is the best treatment plan for you. Orthopedic surgeons at Beaumont can help. Our orthopedic knee surgeons care for patients with a full range of disabling knee joint disorders. Our knee surgeons use the latest technology and techniques combined with decades of experience — and Beaumont is among a select group of American hospitals approved for advanced fellowship training in both joint reconstruction and sports medicine.

Advanced Treatment: Tenex Tenotomy

The Tenex tenotomy procedure is a non-surgical procedure used to treat chronic pain associated with tendinitis/tendinopathy and plantar fasciitis/fasciosis. The minimally invasive technique can reduce tendon pain by breaking down and removing damaged tissues with high-frequency ultrasound energy. The procedure is commonly used to treat tendinitis/tendinopathy of the elbow, hip, knee, shoulder, ankle, and plantar fascia.  The procedure is performed using local anesthetic and ultrasound guidance which makes it extremely safe. The procedure is minimally invasive and allows patients to return to normal activities faster than surgery.

The procedure is performed though a small skin puncture (2-3mm) and the device is advanced to the diseased tendon or plantar fascia using ultrasound guidance. The device then removes the diseased tissue and stimulates your bodies normal healing response. The device is then removed and small bandage is applied. Patients go home shortly after the procedure and typically have a short course (3-7 days) of relative immobilization in a sling or walking boot.

Make an appointment at Beaumont 

If you have knee pain or immobility, or other symptoms of knee tendonitis, contact a Beaumont knee specialist to make an appointment. Our specialists offer a full range of treatments for patients of all ages and all types of knee pain and dysfunction. 

Beaumont’s orthopedic program is available throughout Metro Detroit. No matter which type of knee condition you may have, we have a team of specialists ready to determine the best treatment option for you.

Call 800-633-7377 to make an appointment.