What Is Jumper's Knee?

Jumper's knee is an injury of the patellar tendon. The patellar tendon is the cord-like tissue that joins the patella (kneecap) to the tibia (shinbone).

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Jumper's Knee?

Common symptoms of jumper's knee include:

  • pain below the kneecap, especially during sports, climbing stairs, and bending the knee
  • a swollen knee joint
  • knee stiffness

What Causes Jumper's Knee?

Jumper's knee is an overuse injury (when repeated movements injure a part of the body). It happens when frequent jumping, running, and changing direction damages the patellar tendon. It's also called patellar tendonitis.

Jumper's Knee 2

Who Gets Jumper's Knee?

Jumper's knee usually affects people who play sports where there is a lot of jumping and running, such as track and field, basketball, volleyball, gymnastics, running, and soccer. 

How Is Jumper's Knee Diagnosed?

To diagnose jumper's knee, health care providers:

  • ask about symptoms
  • do a physical exam
  • order imaging tests such as an X-ray or MRI, if needed

How Is Jumper's Knee Treated?

Treatment for jumper's knee includes:

  • rest and taking a break from sports
  • ice
  • taping or wearing a knee support or strap just under the patella
  • sitting with the leg raised
  • ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, or store brand) to help with pain and swelling
  • massage therapy
  • strengthening and stretching muscles through physical therapy or an at-home exercise program

If someone with jumper's knee does not rest the knee, the tendon can become more damaged. Although it is not common, surgery may be needed if:

  • the pain does not go away
  • the patellar tendon is more damaged than is typical with jumper's knee

Looking Ahead

It will probably take a few weeks to months for your child to recover from jumper's knee.

To help your child heal as quickly as possible, follow your health care provider's instructions about:

  • which activities to avoid
  • which activities are OK (for example, swimming may be fine while your child is healing)
  • strengthening exercises
  • making and keeping all follow-up doctor visits

After recovery, your child should always stretch before and after sports, and avoid overtraining. This can help prevent jumper's knee and other sports injuries too.

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.

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