Jumper’s knee – symptoms, diagnosis, treatment

Kolano skoczkaThe jumper’s knee is an injury which entails pain at the front side of the knee, in the place of kneecap ligament attachment to a kneecap. The kneecap ligament is a structure which links a kneecap with the tibia and plays a vital role in the process of transferring hip muscles power. Thanks to this, we can straighten our knee, run, jump, hit a ball when playing. The jumper’s knee, that is kneecap ligament inflammation, is a very common sport injury which frequently prevents professional sportspersons from pursuing their career, e.g. volleyball or basketball players.

When to visit a doctor?
What are the symptoms? We feel pain at the front side of the knee, particularly close to the kneecap ligament attachment to the kneecap, that is at the lower edge of the kneecap. Initially, the symptoms may occur at the beginning of intensive training, or shortly after the workout. With time, if the injury is not treated, symptoms intensify and if the injury is advanced, the pain may accompany everyday activities, such as going upstairs or downstairs, sitting on the chair.

We should consult a doctor when the pain does not stop, and the basic treatment, that is rest or cooling, do not let us relieve.

When micro-injuries coincide…
This injury most frequently occurs as a result of micro-injuries which occur at the same time, that is minor kneecap ligament damage, which affects its internal structure and reduces strength. This in turn leads to advancing ligament damage. Persons who are highly susceptible to the aforementioned situation have reduced strength and muscle resistance, are overweight, have already sustained an injury and failed to fully treat it, or decide to do sport too intensively. It is important that we assure a relevant muscle balance, that is a harmony between every part of our body – so that our movements are proper. If it is disturbed, then we may be at risk of sustaining an injury.

Three treatment variants
In the process of diagnosing damage to kneecap ligament, that is the so-called jumper’s knee, we rely on ultrasound examination, and in case of doubts we use magnetic resonance as well. Thanks to this combination, the diagnosis is crystal clear and reliable.

There are three treatment variants. The first and most important is conservative treatment. It is concerned with a relevant rehabilitation protocol, that is work with a physiotherapist who prescribes eccentric strengthening, muscle strengthening trainings as well as restoration of a proper muscle balance. Sometimes we also make use of the shockwave therapy.

With regard to more serious changes, we resort to injections, that is injections near the ligament in question. Here, it is advisable to use the platelet rich plasma (PRP) preparations, bone marrow in the form of injection, and sometimes hyaluronic acids.

Surgery is a last resort
When the conservative treatment does not bring desired effect, and these are cases of the most advanced and chronic damage, then the surgical treatment is a must. If this is the case, we use arthroscopy, that is a little-invasive knee surgery. We repair all damage inside the knee, and by making a small cut, we clean the damaged part of the kneecap ligament. After the surgery, a rehabilitation is required. The patients regain full sport capabilities usually after 3-6 months.

Anatomy, causes, symptoms and methods of treatment discussed by:
PhD Paweł Bąkowski, Rehasport Clinic Orthopedist