Jumper’s knee an overuse injury

Q. I have been told that I have a jumper’s knee by my primary care doctor. He told me to rest from playing basketball, which helped until I went back to play.

It bothers me when I play and even worse when I finish playing. I have heard the pro players get tendonitis and I wondered if this is the same thing. What I should do to get rid of it?

Injuries to the knee in basketball are common and are divided into two main categories. Acute injuries that frequently cannot be prevented are injuries to the ligaments such as the ACL or MCL, or meniscal cartilage tears.

Many of the acute injuries require surgery to fix them and allow the athlete to return to their previous level of competition.

However, the more common injuries we see in basketball are overuse injuries. These are typically called “tendonitis” or “jumper’s knee.”

There are four large quadriceps muscles that converge to form the quadriceps tendon, which attaches to the kneecap “patella” and the patellar tendon. They, in turn, attach to the lower part of the kneecap and extend to the upper bone known as the tibia.

When playing sports the quad tendon and patellar tendon take up to five to seven times the body weight while running and jumping. Repetitive stresses can lead to inflammation of the tendon where it attaches to the bone. This form of tendinosis is known as jumper’s knee. Frequently this is seen in athletes who do not warm up and stretch properly or perform improper strength training in the gym.

These injuries can usually be treated with anti-inflammatory medication and a physical therapy and rehabilitation program aimed at improving flexibility as well as pain-free strengthening of the quadriceps muscles. Knee sleeves and patellar straps can help decrease the symptomatology while playing but not affect the actual healing of the tendonitis.

In a rare circumstance the degeneration of the tendon can go on long enough that it can lead to partial tearing of the tendon and may require high-energy shockwave treatments known as the OssaTron, PRP injections, or surgical repair.

I recommend you see an orthopedic surgeon for evaluation and treatment so you can continue to play basketball and running and jumping sports and still get your injury healed.

Dr. Harlan Selesnick is team physician of the Miami Heat and director of Miami Sports Medicine Fellowship, Doctors Hospital. Send your questions to