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Why does my child’s knee hurt when he jumps? Understanding Patellar Tendonitis.

Orthopaedic & Sports Physiotherapy Blog Post

Patellar tendonitis, also called jumper’s knee, is a common condition seen in active kids. This occurs when the tendon, just below the tip of the kneecap (patella), becomes inflamed and irritated.

Symptoms can include pain with repetitive jumping, running and going up and down stairs. When kids begin to experience pain from this condition, they will often start to favour their knee. As a result, the child then begins to lose strength in the quadriceps muscle and they can experience more pain with activities.

Physiotherapy can help. This should start with a biomechanical assessment to ensure that other factors such as weak gluteal muscles (“glutes”) or a stiff ankle are not also contributing to the problem.

Treatment will often consist of manual mobilizations of the patella, and specific strengthening and stretching exercises for the quadriceps muscle. Ultrasound and interferential current therapies are also helpful in treating the inflammation related to patellar tendonitis. If treated early, it may take 4 – 6 weeks for the symptoms to settle down. If the pain has been present for a few weeks or months, then it will likely take longer to get significant relief.

Lastly, if the child is still experiencing a minimal amount of discomfort when they return to activity, there are patellar straps that can be very helpful. These straps can also be used in the acute phase of treatment if symptoms are severe.

Marni Pepper

About Marni Pepper

Marni Pepper is a physiotherapist with over 15 years of experience in orthopedics treating children and adults. She graduated with honours from the University of Toronto’s four year physiotherapy program. For 10 years, Marni worked directly with orthopedic surgeons at the Canadian Knee Institute where they specialized in ACL and meniscal repairs, osteotomies, joint replacements and other post-surgical rehabilitation.

Learn more about Marni Pepper

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