Inflammation of the quadriceps tendon can be a result of repetitive stress to the quadriceps or excessive stress before the muscle is conditioned. Minor tears may occur in the tendon when it is stretched while subjected to loading. Pain just above the patella (kneecap), especially when extending (straightening) the knee, usually accompanies this injury.
Cause of injury
Repetitive stress to the tendon, e.g. running or jumping. Repetitive acceleration and deceleration, e.g. hurdling or football. Untreated injury to the quadriceps.
Signs and symptoms
Pain just above the patella. Jumping, running, kneeling or walking down stairs may aggravate the pain.
Complications if left unattended
The quadriceps muscles may become stiff and shortened and the tendon will become weak if left untreated. This could lead to a rupture of the tendon. A change in gait or landing form in the case of hurdlers can lead to other injuries as well.
Rest and ice. Anti-inflammatory medication. Training modification.
Rehabilitation and prevention
Rehabilitation should include stretching and strengthening exercises for the quadriceps. Activities such as swimming can be helpful to reduce the stress on the tendon during rehabilitation. Return to a normal activity schedule should be delayed until pain subsides completely and strength is restored. Keeping the quadriceps flexible and strong will help prevent this condition.
A full recovery with no long-term disability or lingering effects can be expected in most cases of tendinitis, and surgery is only necessary in extremely rare cases.