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Tendons, cords, or tissue that connect muscles to the bone, transfer the action of the muscle to it. But when tendons are overused, they respond with inflammation. Pain, redness, and swelling occur. This tendonitis, or inflammation of the tendons, usually results from overuse. Too much stress on a poorly conditioned tendon may be the culprit.

Tendonitis can be acute (coming on quickly and lasting only briefly) or chronic (recurring repetitively). Gymnasts who practice a hard landing over and over again during one three-hour training session might get acute tendonitis in their kneecap. Basketball players and volleyball players get this same kind of tendonitis and call it "jumper′s knee." Runners who dramatically increase their training for an upcoming marathon may get tendonitis on the outside of their knee, in what is called the iliotibial tract.


Tendonitis, unlike many other knee injuries, allows an athlete to continue using the leg. Though it may hurt when initiating the activity, the pain may disappear after the first 15 minutes or so of warm-up. The pain won′t return until the next day when it will be worse. Tendonitis, very forgiving in the beginning, becomes more severe with repeated infractions. With acute tendonitis, an athlete can continue to use the knee, but ignoring the grating or sandy feeling when the tendon moves through its sheath may permit the tendonitis to become a chronic condition.


To help prevent tendonitis and other injuries, always stretch thoroughly before working out. Slow and gradual stretches, without bouncing, that are held for at least six seconds get the blood moving and help accustom the body to movement. Acute knee tendonitis requires RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). When the swelling goes down, change the therapy: apply heat before workouts and ice afterward. Until the injury heals, take aspirin or another anti-inflammatory drug. Revise your workouts to be kind to your knees for at least two weeks.

Chronic tendonitis needs heat or contrast therapy, the alternating of 5-minute heat and 5-minute ice compresses totaling 20 minutes, and massage. In contrast therapy, heat improves circulation and thereby healing and the ice reduces or controls the swelling from the increased circulation. But chronic tendonitis, like acute tendonitis, once healed, is best followed by a muscle exercise program so that the system can be made stronger and a recurrence prevented.

This is a section from Dr. Jack E, Jensen′s book The One Stop Knee Shop. Read the next section Hamstring Strain.

  • Athletic Orthopedics

    Athletic Orthopedics

    Athletic Orthopedics

    Athletic Orthopedics
    & Knee Center
    9180 Katy Freeway
    Suite 200
    Houston, TX 77055





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