| By Dr. Charles Ruotolo

Any athlete knows that taking care of the lower extremities is the most important thing to ensure success. Two healthy knees are just as valuable to a tennis player as a powerful serve and a deadly backhand. One injury that plagues tennis players the most is patellar tendonitis, which also goes by the more commonly used name “Jumper’s Knee.”

Jumper’s Knee is an injury that comes about simply due to repetitive strain and overuse. The injury affects the patellar tendon, which attaches the kneecap to the tibia. The explosive movements involved in the sport can cause micro-tears and degeneration in the tendon.

The name “Jumper’s Knee” was coined when a basketball player’s knee would become inflamed after repeatedly jumping off of a hard-court surface. The casual tennis player will find themselves playing almost exclusively on a similarly hard surface, which will increase the chance of this injury plaguing the knee.

Whether we are talking about a “weekend warrior” or a professional tennis player, measures can always be taken to minimize the risk of jumper’s knee:

►Warming up and stretching properly before a match is crucial, because there is no way to just ease into a tennis match. From the first serve to the last the ball will be bouncing baseline to baseline.

►Strengthening the leg muscles, especially the quadriceps. Having a strong quadriceps muscle will help any player withstand the constant pressure put on the knee during play.

►Be sure to wear the right type of shoes. It is surprising how many injuries occur just because the player neglects to wear a shoe that fits properly. A player should purchase a shoe that offers comfort and support. Also they should be fitted for the proper orthotics if need be.

►A player with a history of knee pain or injuries should consider playing with a knee brace. The same goes for any type of physical activity. This knee brace should be as light as possible and fit properly.

A player already suffering from jumper’s knee will complain of anterior knee pain, while the knee will become inflamed. There will be tenderness at the inferior aspect of the knee-cap and it will become painful to bend the knee. This injury can and will diminish the strength of the quadriceps muscle, which will not only take its toll on their quality of play but it also will put the player at major risk for exacerbation of the problem and secondary injury.

As is the case with many overuse injuries, the only way for this injury to heal is for the player to take some time off. It will generally take one or two months of complete rest for this condition to fully heal. Rehabilitation should also be performed at this time. Recent exciting studies on eccentric strengthening programs have shown better success rates than standard concentric muscle strengthening programs. Eccentric strengthening is strengthening the muscle as the muscle and tendon are lengthening or being stretched. Injections of platelet rich plasma (PRP), an in-office procedure, can also be performed to stimulate tendon healing. In the rare case that rest and rehabilitation does nothing to subside the pain, a tendon excision procedure can be performed to remove the frayed tendon and begin the healing process.

Any player in need of inspiration can look at one of the greatest professional players of all time. Rafael Nadal is known for his quickness and determination to get to every single ball, no matter how far away it may seem. While this style of play has won him multiple grand slam titles and propelled him to super-stardom, it had also taken its toll on his knees. In 2009, he was suffering from jumper’s knee in both knees, and it forced him to sit out Wimbledon. As any tennis fan knows, it takes a lot for a player to sit out of Wimbledon, especially when that player was the defending champion. However, Nadal sat out and received the proper treatment for his knees. Nadal would later say that while it’s hard to sit out a tournament like Wimbledon, he had to keep his long-term interests in mind. Fully-rested and recovered, he came back in 2010 with a vengeance, taking his game to new heights and reclaiming his world number one ranking. He ended up winning three Grand Slam titles that year, including his first ever U.S. Open title. The U.S. Open of course, is famously played on a hard court.

If you or a loved one is feeling knee or any other type of pain while out on the court, do not hesitate to contact Total Orthopedics and Sports Medicine.

Dr. Charles Ruotolo

<p>Dr. Charles Ruotolo is a Board-Certified Orthopedic Surgeon and the founder of Total Orthopedics and Sports Medicine with locations in Massapequa, East Meadow and the Bronx, N.Y. Dr. Ruotolo completed his orthopedic residency program at SUNY Stony Brook in 2000. After his residency, he underwent fellowship training in sports medicine and shoulder surgery at the prestigious Sports Clinic of Laguna Hills, Calif. He is also a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. As an Associate Master Instructor of Arthroscopy for the Arthroscopy Association of North America, Dr. Ruotolo actively teaches other orthopedic surgeons advanced arthroscopic skills in shoulder surgery. As an avid researcher he has also published multiple articles on shoulder injuries and shoulder surgery in the peer review journals of Arthroscopic Surgery and of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.totalorthosportsmed.com" onclick="window.open(this.href, 'wwwtotalorthosportsmedcom', 'resizable=no,status=no,location=no,toolbar=no,menubar=no,fullscreen=no,scrollbars=no,dependent=no'); return false;">www.totalorthosportsmed.com</a>.</p>