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J Athl Train. 1995 Oct-Dec; 30(4): 342–344.
PMCID: PMC1318006

Surgical Treatment of Chronic Patellar Tendinitis in a Collegiate Football Player

Joel W. Beam, MEd, ATC
Joel W. Beam is Assistant Athletic Trainer at University of Miami, 5821 San Amaro Drive, Coral Gables, FL 33146.
Philip R. Lozman, MD, ATC
Philip R. Lozman is Sports Medicine Fellow at Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, University of Miami School of Medicine.


In the competitive athlete, there are many causes of anterior knee pain, one of which is patellar tendinitis. Repetition of explosive movements can cause microtrauma to the tendon and its insertion, resulting in patellar tendinitis and occasional tearing, either partial or total. Due to its refractory nature, the treatment of this disorder can be quite frustrating to all involved. A 20-year-old collegiate football player with patellar tendinitis was treated conservatively for more than 2 years. Despite aggressive training regimens, including quadriceps stretching, eccentric strengthening, and therapeutic modalities, the athlete was unable to participate at his preinjury level. Physical examination of his knee revealed inflammation and crepitation. Radiographs demonstrated an avulsion fragment from the inferior pole of the patella and magnetic resonance imaging showed cystic degeneration of the tendon. These findings confirmed the diagnosis of chronic patellar tendinitis. The patient underwent surgical debridement of the patellar tendon without complications. His postoperative rehabilitation was divided into three phases: passive range of motion, active strengthening, and sport-specific activities. At 14 weeks post-surgery, the athlete was able to return to his previous level of activity without pain. Follow-up 30 weeks postoperatively revealed no return of symptoms. At 40 weeks postsurgery, the athlete was participating at his preinjury level. This case report demonstrates the successful outcome of the surgical treatment of chronic patellar tendinitis, which was unresponsive to conservative treatment, in a competitive collegiate football player.

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Selected References

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