Tendonitis in Knee: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Tendonitis in the knee, also called patellar tendinitis, is a medical condition when the tendons become inflamed due to overuse or injury. The tendons are the rugged, fibrous bands that connect the muscles to the bones in the knee joint, and when they become inflamed, they can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling. 

There are several causes of knee tendonitis, including repetitive stress from activities like running or jumping, sudden impact injuries, overuse of the Knee, Sports-Related Injury, leg Muscle Contraction, or degenerative conditions like arthritis.

Causes of Tendonitis in Knee

  • Overuse and Repetitive Strain

One of the main ways that overuse and repetitive strain lead to tendonitis in the knee is by causing micro-tears in the tendon. 

  • Aging and Degeneration

The patellar and quadriceps tendons are most commonly affected when the knee joint is involved. These tendons stabilize the knee joint, allowing us to run, walk, and jump. 

  • Injury or Trauma

When the knee experiences trauma, the tendons can become stretched or torn. It can lead to inflammation, which can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness in the knee. 

Symptoms of Knee Tendonitis

  • Pain

Pain is one of the primary symptoms of tendonitis in the knee because inflammation causes the tissues to become swollen and sensitive to touch or movement.

  • Swelling and Inflammation

Swelling and inflammation are common symptoms of tendonitis in the knee because they are the body’s natural response to injury or strain. When a tendon is injured, the body sends fluid to the area to help heal. This fluid causes swelling and inflammation, which can be painful and limit a person’s range of motion. 

  • Stiffness and Limited Range of Motion

The inflammation of the tendons in the knee can cause stiffness and a limited range of motion. When tendons become inflamed, they can become stiff and cause discomfort when moving the joint. 

  • Clicking or Popping Sensation

One of the symptoms of tendonitis in the knee is a clicking or popping sensation in the knee joint. It occurs because the inflamed tendons can become swollen, which can cause them to rub against other structures in the knee, such as bones or other tendons. This friction can create a popping or clicking sound when you move your knee.

Treatment Options for Tendonitis in Knee

Here are some effective treatments for knee tendonitis discussed in detail below

RICE Therapy

Here’s how the RICE method works to treat knee tendonitis:

  • Rest

The first step in the RICE method is to rest the affected knee. It means avoiding activities that exacerbate the pain, such as running or jumping. Resting the knee allows the inflamed tendons to heal without further irritation.

  • Ice

Applying ice to the knee reduces inflammation and pain and can be done using an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel. The ice should be applied for 15-20 minutes several times daily. Make sure to leave at least an hour between icing sessions.

  • Compression

Wrapping the knee part with an elastic bandage can help reduce swelling and provide support. Be careful not to wrap the bandage too tightly, restricting blood flow. You should be able to fit a finger between the bandage and your skin.

  • Elevation

Elevating the affected knee can also help reduce swelling. Prop your leg up on a pillow or cushion, so your knee is above your heart. It will help promote blood flow and reduce inflammation.


  • Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

NSAIDs reduce inflammation, pain, and stiffness, all common symptoms of tendonitis in the knee. NSAIDs work by blocking the production of certain chemicals in the body called cyclooxygenase (or COX), which helps produce prostaglandins. 

  • Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids work by reducing the body’s immune response, which in turn reduces inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury or infection, but in cases of tendinitis, this response can be excessive and cause pain and discomfort. By reducing inflammation, corticosteroids help to alleviate the symptoms of tendinitis. Examples of corticosteroids that may be used to treat tendonitis in the knee include triamcinolone, betamethasone, and dexamethasone.

Physical Therapy

  • Massage Therapy

The therapy typically uses a combination of techniques to help reduce inflammation, improve range of motion, and relieve pain.

One common technique is effleurage, which involves long, sweeping strokes along the affected area. It can assist in stimulating blood flow and promote healing. Another technique is petrissage, which involves kneading and squeezing the muscles in the affected area. It can help break up adhesions and scar tissue, contributing to pain and inflammation.

  • Heat And Cold Therapy

Heat therapy is usually used for chronic tendonitis, while cold therapy is for sudden injuries. Heat therapy can be applied using a heating pad or a moist towel warmed in the microwave and should be applied for up to 20 minutes three times a day. Cold therapy can be applied using an ice pack or frozen gel pack, coolant spray, ice massage, or ice baths, and it is applied for 10 to 20 minutes several times a day. 

  • Ultrasound Therapy

Ultrasound therapy uses sound waves to create an image of the knee and reveal any tears in the patellar tendon. The ultrasound instrument consists of a high-frequency generator connected to a treatment head or transducer circuit by a coaxial cable to produce ultrasound waves. The ultrasound waves are then used to stimulate factors involved in tendon healing. 

  • Practice with gadgets

Practising with gadgets is a great way to treat tendonitis in the knee. It involves using various devices such as elastic bands, foam rollers, and balance boards to help strengthen the muscles and tendons around the knee. 


The most common type of surgery is arthroscopic debridement, which involves making small incisions in the knee and using a camera to remove damaged tissue. Other surgeries include open debridement, which involves making a larger incision to access the damaged tissue, and tendon repair, which involves stitching the torn tendon back together. Sometimes, a tendon transfer may be necessary to replace a damaged tendon with a healthy one from another body part.


To sum up, tendonitis in the knee can be a painful and debilitating condition that affects many people, especially athletes and those who engage in physical activities that strain the knees. It is essential to recognize the symptoms of tendonitis in the knee early, so treatment is started promptly. 

Some causes of knee tendonitis are prevented by taking precautions such as warming up before exercise and using proper equipment. Treatment options range from rest and ice to physical therapy and surgery in severe cases. 

With the proper care and attention, most people with knee tendonitis can recover fully and return to normal activities. Always consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment for tendonitis in the knee.

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