I first began suffering the pain and symptons of patellar tendonitis near the start of this year. It has taken a long time to recover from this painful condition and every now and then I still feel a 'tweak' of pain in my knee.
Naturally, I find myself wondering how long it could take before my patellar tendonitis eventually heals completely.
Image: "Blausen gallery 2014". Wikiversity Journal of Medicine. DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010. ISSN 20018762.
I have written two prevous articles about this condition and my experience of it. If you are investigating patellar tendonitis for the first time as a result of developing recent knee pain then you may wish to read my earlier articles:
What is patellar tendonitis?
In this article I share researched information about who is at risk of developing patellar tendonitis as well as likely contributing risk factors. The main cause is simply overuse, a common risk factor for any sports enthusiast.
How to treat patellar tendonitis
As I stated in this particular article I am not unfamiliar with injuries and feel confident to self-manage most niggles I pick up from time to time. However, patellar tendonitis has been a different scenario for me. What I thought I could self-manage turned out to be a foolish idea - eventually leading to a more serious condition and one that has taken much of this entire year to heal - and I'm not yet 100%.
This is the 3rd article in this series and I will share a little insight into the healing stage referred to as 'Progression'.
Following stage 1 - controlled rest, I moved into stage 2 - progression roughly 4 months after first recognising I had patellar tendonitis.
Building on the need to strengthen the patellar tendon, which requires direct 'stress' to it in the form of specific squatting technique, I progressed to full body weight bearing squat exercises.
I knew I was ready to progress to this stage when the pain, after performing the strengthening exercises in stage 1, no longer appeared. After some amount of time, weeks, of performing body weight squats without pain I gradually added weight/resistence to the exercise.
I have a 5kg medicine ball which is comfortable to hold close to my chest when performing the squat. I have been cautious about how far I extend into the squat - meaning I do not allow my thighs to travel beyond the horizontal line with my knees. As I have progressed I have also increased the speed and number of reps of my squat exercises.
I have returned to most sporting activites but not all.
In the gym I am doing barbell and quad bar squats with approx. half the weight load I was previously capable of lifting prior to the injury. I am now more focused on conditioning and maintaining strength rather than growing/building muscle or greater strength.
I cannot run like I did prevously. The recurring impact forces on the knee cause pain to return, not as severe but it is there. I have experimented with forefoot strike running techniques as well as others but none seem to improve the condition. I am not optimally built as a runner so this is one activity I am happy to leave out of my routine for now.
I can kite surf for 2-3 hours in one session which involves a lot of pressure on the knees, especially landing jumps and stuff like that. Just yesterday I was out on the water and by the end of a 3 hour surf my 'bad' knee was feeling it - more an ache than pain, but no loss in performance.
The knee, like most joints, are so very critical to our everyday function, especially if we are active people. Losing performance in my knee had a significant impact on my life. So much so that it has left me far more cautious about how I train. This is surely a good thing.
Patellar tendonitis is one of those conditions that doesn't simply heal with rest and ice compression. This condition requires active rehabilitation and the longer it is left untreated the longer it will take to heal, with the potential for 6-12 months required before full recovery is achieved.
If you suspect patellar tendonitis is the cause of your knee pain, even if you are unsure, my recommendation is to get it professionally assessed as soon as possible. A Chartered Physiotherapist is optimally qualified to assess and advise treatment and care for patellar tendonitis.
If you are already suffering with this condition - hang in there and don't lose focus or motiavtion to do your rehab exercises. They are crucial for the recovery process.