Jumper’s Knee wouldn’t keep Rafael Nadal this past Sunday from beating his longtime rival, Novak Djokovic, for a record-extending ninth Italian Open title. It was a return to form that is just in time for his attempt to hold serve for a record-extending 12th title at the French Open next weekend. The return for Nadal is impressive as he has been dealing with knee issues for a while.
If you didn’t know, Rafael Nadal has battled Jumper’s Knee or patellar tendonitis in both of his knees since the age of 21. He has often sited this to be the case upon withdrawing from previous tournaments, most notably the defense of his Wimbledon title in 2009. This tendonitis is particular bothersome for tennis players as they transmit force from their quads to the tibia so the leg can straighten and support their weight as they swing through their 100 mph service. These explosive movements cause micro-tears and degeneration of the tendon due to repetitive strain and overuse.
Symptoms of patellar tendinitis include sharp or persistent dull pain just inferior to the knee patella. Pain over the tendon or ligament is often felt with activity but can persist after the period of activity as it worsens. To prevent patellar tendinitis, it is recommended to warm up and stretch properly before and after playing sports, work to strengthen leg muscles, wear shoes that fit properly with orthotics if necessary, and play with a knee brace if the player has a history of knee pain or injuries. As is the case with many overuse injuries, the best way to heal tendinitis is to rest and take time off.
More recently, biologic injections such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) have been used with some success, such as those offered by one of our orthopaedic partners, Franklin Orthopaedics. Rafael Nadal has even received several PRP injections for his knees in the past, which have provided him some good results.
Most often though, physical therapy is recommended. Treatment of patellar tendonitis includes rest, stretching, eccentric strengthening, and possible bracing. It is essential to limit the chronic inflammation and degeneration of the tendon, by resting, and to maximize tissue strength through proper technique and training. In addition, it is necessary to allow for adequate healing time by modifying activity for a period of time before returning to your sport. A visit to Elite for a physical therapy evaluation will identify areas of lower extremity tightness and weakness and provide a plan of care to address any deficits. The therapist will also educate you on proper rest and activity modifications, while allowing time for healing.
If you are experiencing any kind of knee pain or have been diagnosed with Jumper’s Knee or patellar tendonitis, contact us for a free consultation. To request an appointment, click here, or call directly to one of our three locations during regular business hours:
Cool Springs: 615-224-9810
Spring Hill: 931-489-2022