Patella tendinitis or patellar tendinopathy (also known as "Jumper's Knee") is an injury often seen in runners, cyclists or exercise enthusiasts. And, although the injury is very painful, massage therapy may help to encourage speedy healing, if provided correctly by a trained therapist.
With exercise and physical activity, the tendon has a huge amount of stress especially in people who regularly put extra strain on the knee joint, such as people who perform sports that involve changing direction often and jumping movements.
With continuous strain, tears (as well as a collagen deterioration) may occur as a result of continued stress, and the injury's inability to heal properly.
Patella Tendinitis is considered a soft tissue injury and requires the application of R.I.C.E. (R) rest, (I) ice, (C) compression, (E) elevation. It is very important to understand what each of these provides in the healing process.
Once this condition is diagnosed, it is important that the knee is able to rest - especially for 1-3 days immediately after the injury . Movement or stress on the tendon could make it worse and delay the recovery and healing. Keeping the knee as immobile as possible is also very important, at least for the first 24-48 hours.
Application of ice is best to reduce swelling and inflammation. Crushed ice in a plastic bag or a bag of frozen peas or corn (something that can easily wrap around the entire knee) is best. You can also use a regular ice pack, but get the ice on the knee as soon after the injury as possible.
To protect your skin from ice burn, you should wrap the ice pack or bag of ice/peas in a damp towel to protect the skin.
Use the ice 15-20 minutes every 1-2 hours or so.
Light massage around the area (only after swelling/inflammation has gone) 1-3 days after the injury can promote healing because it increases circulation. Athletes should try to find a massage therapist who has experience working with Sports Massage and a Patella Tendinitis massage technique to avoid any further injury.
Elevation helps to reduce swelling and inflammation.
With repetition of strain on the tendon, micro-tears as well as degeneration of collagen may occur.
This degeneration is called patellar tendinopathy or Jumpers Knee. It is different from patella tendonitis (tendinitis) because this condition is more inflammation of the tendon and tendinopathy is more about degeneration of the tendon.
How does massage help?
Massage therapy for Patella Tendinitis, or Jumper's Knee, is using a sports massage technique which focuses on light pressure to increase circulation and transverse (cross-fiber) friction to break up scar tissue and relax the muscles around the tendon.
Visit your health care provider to pursue the best avenues of treatment for your injury and to insure the tendon or muscles are not torn.
This DVD, Power Precision Series: Medical Assessment, Massage & Treatment of the Knee - 3 DVD / 6 Volume Set By Dr. Ben Benjamin - Bonus Essential Principles DVD Included teaches how to provide manual therapy techniques for this disorder, as well as many other common injuries. This is a 3-DVD, highly rated set, by Dr. Ben Benjamin, who has taught continuing education classes in Orthopedic and sports massage for over 30 years, covers assessment of many common injuries, and how to treat each safely and effectively with massage therapy.
This is a short video clip of on how the DVD will help in learning this treatment:
This is a common injury for many runners, as well as other athletes. Learning how to treat the problen actually would be a very important skill, and one that could make a massage therapist very marketable, as this is a specialized therapy.
Most massage therapists will see clients who suffer from Patella Tendonitis, and should understand how to provide this therapy, without causing additional injury to an already painful inflammation.