DTW is reporting Willis has been diagnosed with patellar tendinitis. While it's a relief that something serious wasn't found, the fact that he is still having problems in his knee three months after the original injury is troubling. Here's what the Mayo Clinic says about the recovery of patellar tendinitis:
The conservative approach to treating patellar tendinitis aims to reduce the strain on your tendon and then gradually build up the tendon's strength. Your doctor may suggest several techniques to accomplish this, including:
- Rest. Rest doesn't mean giving up all physical activity, but avoid running and jumping. Your doctor can suggest other ways of staying active without stressing your damaged patellar tendon. It's especially important to avoid any activity that gives you pain.
- Adjusting your body mechanics. A physical therapist can help you learn to better distribute the force you exert during physical activity. For instance, an athlete who jumps frequently might learn proper takeoff and landing techniques.
- Stretching your muscles. Inflexible muscles, especially inflexible thigh muscles (quadriceps), contribute to the strain on your patellar tendon.
- Strengthening your tendon. A physical therapist may recommend specific exercises to strengthen your patellar tendon and the muscles around it. Exercises can also help strengthen your quadriceps. A specific type of exercise for strengthening the quadriceps called eccentric strengthening has been shown in some studies to help treat and prevent patellar tendinitis. This strengthening exercise involves lowering weight slowly after raising it, such as a seated knee extension exercise.
- Patellar tendon strap. A strap that applies pressure to your patellar tendon can help to distribute force away from the tendon itself and direct it through the strap instead. This may help relieve pain.
- Massage. Massaging the patellar tendon may help encourage tendon healing.
If you've recently developed patellar tendinitis, you can expect at least several weeks or months of conservative therapy before you'll be able to fully resume physical activity, including jumping. If you've re-injured your patellar tendon, the time for healing may be even longer.
And the causes?
- Intensity and frequency of physical activity. Repeated jumping is most commonly associated with patellar tendinitis. Sudden increases in the intensity of physical activity or increases in frequency of activity also put added stress on the tendon.
- Being overweight. Additionally, being overweight or obese increases the stress on the patellar tendon, and some research suggests that having a higher body mass index may increase the risk of patellar tendinitis.
- Tight leg muscles. Reduced flexibility in your thigh muscles (quadriceps) and your hamstrings, which run up the back of your thighs, could increase the strain on your patellar tendon.
- Misalignment of your leg. The way your leg bones line up could be off slightly, putting strain on your tendon.
- Raised kneecap (patella alta). Your kneecap may be positioned higher up on your knee joint, causing increased strain on the patellar tendon.
- Muscular imbalance. If some muscles in your legs are much stronger than others, the stronger muscles could pull harder on your patellar tendon. This uneven pull could cause tendinitis.