Nagging Knee Pain? You May Have Jumper’s Knee

Meniscus tears are very common among athletes, especially basketball players. New York Knick’s point guard Derrick Rose underwent arthroscopic knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee in April. Rose is no stranger to knee injuries, having torn his meniscus twice before, as well as his ACL. Fortunately for Rose- and the Knicks- he is expected to make a full recovery and get back on the court in the next four to six weeks.

Meniscus tears are not the only knee injury plaguing the pros, however. Another common injury basketball players face is the condition known as jumper’s knee, or patella’s tendonitis. Patients with jumper’s knee experience inflammation of the patellar tendon. The patellar tendon connects the kneecap to the shin in the lower leg.

Jumper’s knee most frequently develops from overuse, caused by repetitive motions like running or jumping. It can also occur because of fallen arches and tight leg muscles, especially thighs and hamstrings. Some jumper’s knee sufferers develop the condition if they suddenly take on a new exercise routine or start working out with great intensity or increased frequency. Arthritis is also a contributor to the condition.

The condition begins with pain at the bottom of the kneecap on the front of the knee. For many patients, the initial onset of pain is mild but quickly develops into a very painful situation that makes jumping, running and walking difficult or impossible. Jumper’s knee also causes the knee to be very tender to the touch. Other symptoms include stiffness and aching after exercise or activity. Many individuals with jumper’s knee experience swelling and redness in the afflicted area. The affected tendon thickens as well, causing additional pain.

Since the conditions develops overtime, many individuals with jumper’s knee often to continue exercising and training, despite their nagging pain. This aggravates the already inflamed tissue patella tendon.

Jumper’s knee also affects other parts of the leg, weakening muscles on the inside of the thigh and the calf muscles of the lower leg. Both muscle groups help to hold the kneecap in place during movement and turning.Some jumper’s knee patients experience tightness in the quadriceps muscle, which limits the motion of the leg and causes pain in the patella tendon.

Self-care treatments for jumper’s knee include the RICE method in which patients are encouraged to rest, ice, use compression and elevate their knee. Over the counter pain relievers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, also known as NSAIDs, to help to temporarily relieve pain. Some sufferers of jumper’s knee need physical therapy for their condition.

“Patients with jumper’s knee typically go through a period of self-care in which they try to manage their condition with over the counter medications and rest,” said Dr. Michael Budler, M.D., a Grand Island, Nebraska, interventional radiologist.

Interventional radiology is a radiology specialty that uses imaging to guide procedures to treat many different health conditions.

“While self-care treatments help relieve symptoms, they do not treat the root cause of the condition, which is the inflamed patella tendon,” Budler said.

Budler uses Tenex TX1 to treat jumper’s knee patients. Tenex TX1 is an ultrasonic knife that allows Budler to remove damaged and inflamed tissue, leaving healthy tendon intact. Tenex TX1 patients stay awake during the 15 to 20-minute procedure, which uses a local anesthetic to numb the afflicted area. Once numb, Budler makes two tiny incisions and inserts an ultrasonic wand into the knee.

Budler can see the tendon on a nearby imaging screen, and use the ultrasonic wand to cut out targeted tissue.

Recovery from the Tenex TX1 procedure takes about eight weeks- in contrast to traditional surgery that may sideline patients for several months after their procedure.


Bleacher Report, “Derrick Rose Underwent Knee Surgery, Full Recovery Expected”, 1 April 2017

Sports Health, “Jumper’s Knee versus Runner’s Knee,” 1 January 2016