Quadriceps tendinopathy (formerly known as tendonitis) is a knee injury most commonly sustained by running, jumping, and kicking athletes. The quadriceps muscles and tendon are made up four distinct muscles that merge to create one tendon that comes together at the knee and are integral in straightening the knee and rotation of the hips. Therefore, quadriceps tendinopathy can severely limit or sideline an athlete. Luckily, non-surgical treatment options are available and effective. The four most common are:
- Activity modification. Quadriceps tendinopathy is almost always caused by overuse. In many cases, treating the injury is as simple as decreasing the amount or type of training an athlete performs. This decreases the symptoms—pain, swelling, weakness, tenderness— by decreasing tendon stress, scarring, and tearing.
Illustration 1- The quadriceps tendon works with the quadriceps muscles to straighten the knee. When it’s injured due to overuse, activity modification can allow athletes to return to competition with little to no downtime.
- Physical therapy. As shown in Illustration 1, the quadriceps and patella tendon work in unison to straighten/extend the knee. Any imbalance in muscle/tendon strength or flexibility can lead to injury—usually in the form of tendinopathy. For this reason, injured athletes are prescribed stretching and strengthening exercises that decrease symptoms and improve athletic performance by focusing treatment on the musculo-tendinous junction of the system. Other physical therapy treatment methods include massage, electrical stimulation and ultrasound.
- A neoprene knee brace can be used to support and protect the knee. By holding the patella in correct anatomical position, a brace enables the quadriceps tendon to work properly.
Illustration 2- A neoprene knee brace holds the patella in place
- Prescription anti-inflammatory medication. A fourth, and common, treatment option is non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications. These medications are used for pain control and symptom relief by reducing the inflammation in the tendon early on. They can only be prescribed by a physician—typically, an orthopedic specialist.
If you’re suffering from knee pain, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our 5 Fairfield County offices. One of our orthopedic specialists will examine your knee and determine the severity of your injury. Any combination, of the above-mentioned treatment options will be used to get you back where you belong—on the playing field.