Here's a quick anatomy lesson: put your hand on your knee. Feel that hard piece of bone you call the kneecap? That's your patella. Patellar tendonitis, commonly known as jumper's knee, is a painful condition affecting the patella and the surrounding tissue that keeps it in place, called the patellar tendon. Activities such as walking, running and, as the name suggests, jumping, can all put stress on the patellar tendon, resulting in tiny, painful tears and inflammation.
Symptoms of patellar tendonitis include pain, tenderness and sometimes swelling in and around the knee. Discomfort can occur anywhere in the knee, but it's most common just below the patella, where the patellar tendon connects to the tibia (shinbone). Those with patellar tendonitis often complain of pain when bending or straightening their leg, as well as a dull ache behind the knee joint.
Given that physical activity usually causes patellar tendonitis, it's no surprise that athletes are most commonly affected. However, even people that lead more sedentary lives can have the condition. Factors like muscular imbalance and poor foot structure are among the many possible causes, as they both affect the position of the patella.
If you have patellar tendonitis, a variety of safe and effective techniques can help. Rehabilitative exercise is just one of the options your healthcare practitioner has for reducing your pain and improving your condition.