Having an active child is excellent. In fact, your child might even be a standout member of their sports team! As with any avid junior athlete, your child can sustain a variety of injuries. One of which is a common overuse injury – pediatric patellar tendinitis. Here’s what you should know about this condition and what you can do to resolve it.
What Is Patellar Tendinitis?
Patellar tendinitis is the inflammation of the tendon that connects the patella (kneecap) to the tibia (shinbone). However, patellar tendinitis can also be brought about by a direct injury to the tendon. This injury is particularly common among children athletes who participate in basketball and volleyball. The condition is also commonly known as “jumper’s knee.” The pain associated with this inflammation or injury can range from mild to severe.
What Causes Patellar Tendinitis?
Overuse and repetitive stress on the knee cause patellar tendinitis. Extensive stress on the knee causes micro-tears on the tendon. Although these tears are tiny, they eventually cause the tendon to become inflamed and weak. Common risk factors associated with it tendinitis include:
- Uneven leg muscle strength
- Misaligned feet, legs, and ankles
- Tight leg muscles
- Other chronic conditions that weaken the tendon further
What Are the Recommended Treatment Options for Pediatric Patellar Tendinitis?
The treatment recommended for pediatric patellar tendinitis depends on the severity of the injury. The first recommendation is usually to take different measures to help alleviate pain, e.g. over-the-counter painkillers. Children should also stretch and strengthen the leg muscles with regularity. Children can increase their flexibility through consistent foam rolling. A physician will recommend individuals to avoid activities that put excessive force on the tendon (controlled rest).
When Can Children Return to Physical Activity?
Children who sustain mild patellar tendinitis can make a full recovery in as little as three weeks. Children with severe patellar tendinitis can expect to make a full recovery and return to their normal activities in six to eight months or longer. Important recovery factors include:
- Resting as needed
- Paying close attention to pain and pain levels
- Using over-the-counter medications and ice to help ease pain & inflammation
- Sticking to the rehabilitation plan created by a physician and therapist
- Gradually reintroducing different sports and activities
What Preventive Measures Can Children Take to Prevent Patellar Tendinitis?
Physical therapy proves most beneficial to handling the condition. Children should always have a warm-up session before playing sports or becoming involved in certain activities. Use ice to massage the knee and avoid any swelling. Children need to stretch and strengthen their muscles by using foam rolling. Foam rolling increases flexibility by easing knots in the muscle. This, in turn, helps alleviate inflammation, sore muscles, muscle tightness, and increases the range of motion of the joints.
Here at Diamond Physicians, we specialize in pediatric care, among other healthcare services for the whole family. If you are interested in finding family healthcare in the Fort Worth, Texas or Dallas, Texas, area, contact us today.