What are the symptoms of quadriceps tendonitis?

Quadriceps tendinitis is a condition in which the quadriceps tendon, a strong band of connective tissue that attaches the four heads of the quadriceps muscle to the knee, becomes inflamed. This can be the product of an acute injury, such as tendon strain caused by an explosive jumping motion, or gradual tissue wear from overuse, such as in athletes who must perform repetitive running, jumping, or squatting movements. Symptoms of quadriceps tendonitis usually include pain, swelling, and stiffness just above the patella, which is where the quadriceps tendon attaches to the patella bone.

Originating from the ilium in the hip and the front of the femur in the thigh, the four heads of the quadriceps include the most superficial rectus femoris, and the vastus medialis, vastus intermedius, and vastus below. side. . All four insert through the quadriceps tendon on the anterior or front surface of the patella. This tendon, which is a relatively inflexible band of fibrous tissue, transfers powerful forces from the quadriceps, the primary extensor of the knee joint, through the knee.

Due to the heavy load placed on this tendon, it can become worn and irritated over time or abruptly inflamed due to high-impact movement, particularly when the quad is not strong enough to handle the forces acting on it. In the case of quadriceps tendinitis brought on gradually, it is usually caused by friction between the tendon and the patella, and the tendon becomes inflamed from repetitive rubbing on the bone. This continual friction creates small tears in the tendon fibers that never have a chance to heal, and if the activity causing the inflammation does not cease, the tissue becomes increasingly weaker and there is a risk of partial or complete rupture.

Sudden trauma to the area can also lead to quadriceps tendonitis, common in athletes returning to training after a break, whose quadriceps muscles may be weakened and unaccustomed to the demands of training. For example, when the quadriceps contract forcefully to extend the knee, such as when an athlete rises quickly from a squat or slows down from landing a jump, the quadriceps tendon, which does not stretch as the muscle does, may not be able to withstand the excessive force that is transferred. This can lead to overstretched, inflamed tissue (quadriceps tendonitis) or a more serious injury such as a tear.

Because quadriceps tendinitis presents with such specific symptoms, it is not considered difficult to diagnose. When moving the knee, the individual will experience pain due to the tendon rubbing on the bone just at the top edge of the patella and often swelling in the area. You may also report a burning sensation where the muscle meets the knee, as well as stiffness, most often during and after a workout, first thing in the morning and at night. Finally, you will likely experience tenderness in the tissue above the patella when you feel or move the knee joint.

To treat these symptoms, doctors recommend resting the area, avoiding exercise that works the knee joint for four to six weeks. This will allow the tendon damage to heal on its own. For pain, over-the-counter anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen can be taken, and the knee can be frozen to reduce inflammation and swelling.

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