The patella (knee cap) is essentially a floating bone. It transfers the force of the largest and strongest muscle grouping, the quadriceps (front of thigh), into the lower leg. In activities such as jumping, the quadriceps act to straighten the knee to propel the individual off the ground, as well as functioning in stabilising their landing. On a day-to-day basis, the patella plays a vital role in controlling the rate at which the knee is bent, which allows us to perform smooth and controlled movements such as going down stairs and sitting down without collapsing.
The patella tendon is a strong, flat band which extends from the bottom of the patella (inferior pole) and attaches onto the tibia or shin bone. It can actually be regarded that the patella tendon is a continuation of the quadriceps tendon.
Like any tendon, the patella tendon can become injured as a consequence of inappropriate physical training, leading to a tendinopathy.
The classic presentation of a patella tendinopathy is pain underneath the knee cap in athletes who perform activities that involve jumping, hence this injury is often referred to as “jumper’s knee”. Frequently, these patients also report tenderness on palpation of the patella tendon, as well as pain on contracting the quadriceps muscle group, either when the patient is stationary or performing more functional activities such as squatting. The tendon may also appear enlarged in comparison to the other leg.
(The list of conditions given above and subsequent explanations are intended as a general guide and should not be considered a replacement for a full medical examination. Furthermore, we do not purport to treat all the conditions listed. Should you wish to discuss any of these conditions with our chiropractors, please do not hesitate to phone the clinic on 020 7374 2272 or email email@example.com).