Quadriceps tendinitis (also spelled tendonitis) is a painful condition affecting the quadriceps tendon above the patella (kneecap). The quadriceps group of muscle (individually called the vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius, vastus medialis and the overlying rectus femoris) is the largest in the front of the thigh and is very important for stabilizing the leg. The quadriceps tendon connects the quadriceps to the tibia (shins) via the patellar tendon, which surrounds the knee cap itself. The movement of the knee known as the quadriceps mechanism involves the patella (knee cap), the patella tendon, the quadriceps and its tendon. They all work together to extend the leg to straight.
Quadriceps tendonitis is caused by repetitive use of this tendon. This condition is most common in an athlete who is in involved in sports that require lots of jumping such as basketball, volleyball and jogging, or in a sport that requires a lot of stopping and starting. Little tears in the tendon and tendon sheath will present as pain and inflammation if these tears are not allowed to heal with rest.
Inflammation in the quadriceps tendon is often due to irritation and/or micro-tearing of the collagen fibers. When the fibers tear, they become weaker, inflamed and swollen causing pain and tenderness in the area.
There are 2 types of tendonitis, acute and chronic. Acute quadriceps tendonitis refers to inflammation that comes on suddenly, usually from a tendon strain or overloading it during exercise. Chronic quadriceps tendonitis occurs over time and generally results from long term repetitive use of the quadriceps tendon.
With both types of tendinitis, scar tissue develops on the tendon as the tears begin to heal. This scar tissue mends the tears in an abnormal way leaving the collagen fibers weaker and more prone to further injury. In the case of chronic quadriceps tendinitis, a build up of scar tissue over a long period of time will make the tendon and the entire knee joint more prone to re-injury.
Other conditions which can be a cause of anterior (front) knee pain are commonly confused with quadriceps tendonitis. These conditions include patellar tendonitis, synovial plicae, chondromalacia, patello-femoral subluxation and hyper-pressure, fat pad impingement or Hoffa's syndrome and patello-femoral arthritis.
Quadriceps Tendinitis Risk Factors
- Participating in "jumping" sports such as basketball, volleyball and jogging.
- Having diabetes, gout or para-hypothyroidism.
- Age can be a factor because as we grow older our tendons become more brittle and therefore prone to injury.
- Activities that require sharp, sudden changes of direction or lots of stopping and starting.
- Mis-alignment of the foot, ankle, and leg including flat feet, leg length discrepancy, tracking abnormalities, etc.
Quadriceps Tendonitis Symptoms
- Pain when tightening or flexing the quadriceps with a straight leg.
- Pain when the top of the kneecap is pressed.
- Irritation or pain when moving from a crouched position to a standing position.
- Stiffness or tightness the day following any activity or exercise that irritated the area.
Treating Quadriceps Tendinitis
The best way to treat quadriceps tendonitis is to start by resting your knee, especially avoiding the particular activity that produced the condition. Regular cold compression wrap application, Soft Tissue Repair Therapy and gentle stretching and physiotherapy are all helpful.
In the case of mild tendinitis, the body should be able to heal the tendon fibers normally with proper rest. Unfortunately, this is not the usual result, due to the injured tendon being used frequently in everyday activities.
Because of this stress on the quadriceps tendon, the body heals the injured fibers by binding them together with fibrotic adhesions, or scar tissue. This is a normal, protective response of the body, done in an attempt to prevent further damage to the injured area. Unfortunately, this leads to inflexibility in the knee and possibly chronic knee problems.
The trick to healing a quadriceps tendon injury (or any tendon injury) is getting it to heal with minimal scar tissue formation - one of the reasons why we recommend use of the T•Shellz Wrap®. Even with optimum healing there is always less elasticity in a previously injured tendon. You need to make sure you heal this as best you can - that way, your chance of re-injury down the road is much lower than average. If not treated properly, persistent symptoms will occur, which may eventually lead to corrective surgery.
Using cold compression to treat quadriceps tendinitis reduces pain, swelling, and tissue damage.
Cold Compression Therapy works by interrupting and slowing nerve and cell function in the damaged area. This is important because once blood vessels are damaged, they can no longer carry oxygenated blood to the quadriceps tendon and tissue cells begin to break-down. An ice pack or frozen bag of peas will help you minimize pain and swelling immediately following an injury or after any further re-injury (which is common due to the instability of the knee).
Cold temperatures slow cell function thereby reducing cellular break-down. Furthermore, because the cold numbs the nerves, it will help reduce pain.
Soft Tissue Repair Therapy
After the inflammation and swelling above your kneecap and around your quadriceps tendon is reduced, you can begin to treat your entire knee with Soft Tissue Repair Therapy, or STR Therapy.
STR Therapy increases the amount of blood that flows naturally soft tissue in the knee, nourishing tendons, ligaments and muscles. It is increased blood flow that helps speed soft tissue healing.
By treating yourself with Soft Tissue Repair Therapy you can increase your body's blood supply to the knee and your body's natural healing power. In addition, the fresh blood flow whisks away dead cells and toxins that have built up from the injury leaving the area clean and able to heal faster. The Knee T•Shellz Wrap® provides highly effective, non-invasive, non-addictive pain relief and enhanced blood flow with no side effects.
During your recovery, you will probably have to modify and/or eliminate any activities that cause pain or discomfort in your knee until your pain and inflammation settle. Taking the time to care for your knee properly will have your quadriceps tendon back to normal faster and allow you to get back to the activities you enjoy.
With these simple therapies you will notice incredible improvement in your knee. The more diligent you are with your treatment and rehabilitation, the faster you will see successful results!
We recommend that you consult your doctor and/or physiotherapist before using any of our outstanding products, to make sure they're right for you and your condition.
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During your recovery, you will probably have to modify and/or eliminate any activities that cause pain or discomfort at the location of your soft tissue injury until the pain and inflammation settle. Always consult your doctor and/or Physical Therapist before using any of our outstanding products, to make sure they are right for you and your condition. The more diligent you are with your treatment and rehabilitation, the faster you will see successful results!