Knee Pain and Jumping Injuries

The term “jumper’s knee” was first coined in 1973 to describe an injury to the tendon that attaches the lower (most common) to the prominence (tibial tuberosity) on the proximal shin bone (tibia) or the upper pole of the knee cap or “patella” to the quadriceps femoris muscle.

Jumper’s knee is one of the more common tendinopathies that affect up to 20% of all adult athletes in sports with frequent jumping, typically among adolescent basketball and volleyball players. Individuals who are obese or who are bow-legged or knock-kneed or whose lower limbs are unequal in length have a higher risk for jumper’s knee. Poor jumping technique can also increase the risk for this condition as can cause overtraining, especially on hard surfaces.

The disease process for jumper’s knee can be divided into four stages: 1) pain only after activity without disability; 2) pain during and after without disability; 3) prolonged pain during and after which affects function; 4) complete tendon tear that requires surgical repair.

Treatment for jumper’s knee can include: 1) reducing jumping activity;  2) icing the knee for 15-30 minutes, four to six times a day, especially after the activity; 3) a thorough exam of the hip, knee, ankle, and foot to assess joint function; 4) stretching the hamstrings, calf, quadriceps, hip flexors, gluteal (buttocks), iliotibial band, and tissues around the knee cap; 5) strengthening exercises focused on specific parts of the quadriceps (vastus medialis oblique especially) and other leg muscles; 6) ultrasound and other therapies that may help speed recovery; and 7) taping to help patellar tracking.

Doctors of chiropractic are trained to evaluate and treat the whole person and frequently treat athletic injuries. A successful treatment outcome for jumper’s knee requires both local knee care and the management of the entire lower “kinetic chain” which includes the foot, ankle, knee, hip, and pelvis.