Ask the Docs | Jumper’s Knee

Posted December 16, 2005

Patient Question:

When I take a jump shot, drive to the basket, or jump to grab a rebound, I often feel a sharp pain behind my kneecap. What causes this? How can it be treated?

Dr. Nik Verma:

You may be experiencing patellar tendonitis, or what is commonly known as “Jumper’s Knee.” This condition occurs when the tendon that connects the patella (kneecap) to the tibia (shinbone) becomes inflamed. Jumper’s Knee is one of the more common, and probably the most painful, of all “overuse injuries” for recreational athletes.

In basketball and other sports, Jumper’s Knee is caused by repetitive micro trauma to the patellar tendon. Think about this: when you take a jump shot, leap for a rebound, or push off for a slam dunk, you’re applying force to your patellar tendon in excess or 15 times your body weight! It’s remarkable that Jumper’s Knee isn’t more prevalent in recreational athletes.

Treatment Options:

Fortunately, Jumper’s Knee typically responds well to conservative treatment including rest, ice, and use of a patellar tendon strap during play. However, avoiding overuse of the knee may be the best remedy. If your symptoms persist more than a few weeks, you should consult a sports medicine physician.

Through a comprehensive examination, your physician can diagnose the injury. He or she may have you run, jump or squat to see if this causes pain. In many cases an X-ray or MRI will be ordered for your knee. Although Jumper’s Knee is typically caused by overuse, in some cases a fallen arch (overpronation) problem can be the root cause of the condition. Medical treatment can range from a regimen of anti-inflammatory medication to prescription of custom-made orthotics. In very rare cases, arthroscopic surgery is required to repair the injured tendon.

For more information about Dr. Verma and the Sports Medicine physicians of Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, team physicians for the Chicago Bulls, call 877.MD BONES or visit them online at

The information contained on this page is intended only for general public education, and is not intended to serve as a substitute for direct medical advice. This information should not replace necessary medical consultations with a qualified orthopaedic physician.