Can you play sports with patellar tendonitis?

What is Patellar Tendonitis?

Patellar tendonitis, also known as jumper’s knee, is a common overuse injury of the knee. It occurs when the patellar tendon that connects the kneecap to the shinbone becomes inflamed and irritated. The tendon is highly active during activities like running, jumping, and squatting. When it is overused, the tendon can become strained and weakened, leading to pain and inflammation around the kneecap. Patellar tendonitis can be quite painful and may limit one’s ability to participate in sports or physical activities.

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What Causes Patellar Tendonitis?

The most common cause of patellar tendonitis is overuse of the knee joint. This often occurs when an individual engages in a lot of running, jumping, and squatting activities. It can also be caused by imbalances in the leg muscles or a sudden increase in the intensity of training. Poor form or technique can also increase one’s risk of developing this condition.

What are the Symptoms of Patellar Tendonitis?

The most common symptom of patellar tendonitis is pain and tenderness around the kneecap. This pain is typically worse during activities like jumping and running, and may get worse with prolonged use. Other symptoms include swelling, stiffness, and difficulty straightening the knee.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Patellar Tendonitis

If you suspect that you have patellar tendonitis, it is important to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis. Your doctor will likely perform a physical exam and ask questions about your symptoms. Imaging tests such as X-rays and MRI scans may be used to rule out other possible causes of the pain.

Treatment for patellar tendonitis typically involves rest, ice, and physical therapy. Your doctor may also recommend taking anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen to reduce inflammation and pain. In more severe cases, a doctor may inject corticosteroids into the damaged area to reduce inflammation. Surgery is usually only recommended as a last resort.

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Can You Play Sports with Patellar Tendonitis?

The short answer is yes, you can play sports with patellar tendonitis. However, it is important to take certain steps to ensure that you do not make your condition worse.

Tips for Playing Sports with Patellar Tendonitis

  • Rest: Make sure to take breaks between activities and take a few days off from sports or exercise if your knee is feeling particularly sore.
  • Ice: Ice your knee for 15-20 minutes after activities to reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Stretch: Stretch your leg muscles, especially the quadriceps, before and after activities to keep them flexible and strong.
  • Wear Supportive Gear: Wear knee braces to support the knee and reduce strain on the tendon.
  • Strengthen Muscles: Strengthen the muscles around the knee to improve stability and reduce the risk of injury.
  • Modify Activities: Modify activities that put too much strain on the knee. For example, running on a flat surface may be safer than running on hills.

When to See a Doctor

If you experience persistent pain and swelling or difficulty straightening your knee, it is important to see a doctor. Your doctor can diagnose the cause of your pain and recommend the best course of action for treating it.

Preventing Patellar Tendonitis

The best way to prevent patellar tendonitis is to avoid overusing the knee joint and to strengthen the muscles around it. Make sure to warm up and stretch before activities, and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts. Always use proper form and technique when exercising, and take breaks if your knee starts to feel sore.


Patellar tendonitis can be a painful and limiting condition, but it does not have to stop you from playing sports. With proper treatment and preventive measures, you can reduce your risk of developing this condition and continue to enjoy physical activities.