Knee tendonitis

Tendons are strong bands of connective tissue that attach your bones to your muscles. Should a tendon become inflamed or irritated, it is referred to as tendonitis.

Tendonitis can occur in any tendon in the body, and the most common cause is overuse of the muscle the tendon attaches to. This overuse is often due to repetitive movements, such as those used in sports like golf, tennis or swimming, although it can also occur suddenly if a serious and abnormal load or weight is applied to the tendon.

Your knee is the largest and most complex joint in your body, and when tendonitis occurs in a tendon in the knee it can significantly affect your ability to use your leg normally. Should you be experiencing pain, inflammation, swelling or discomfort in your knee, assessment, diagnosis and advice on treatment from an orthopaedic consultant is advised, and you can easily arrange an appointment at the closest Circle hospital to you, at a time that is convenient for you.

The largest tendon in your knee is known as the patellar tendon. This tendon runs over your kneecap (patella) and connects your shinbone (tibia) with the large muscles of your upper thigh (quadriceps). The patellar tendon helps your leg muscles to extend your knee, providing important leg movements such as jumping and kicking. Should tendonitis occur in your patellar tendon, it is known as patellar tendonitis and this is the most common form of tendonitis experienced in the knee.

While the nature and severity of symptoms will vary from person to person, the most common symptom of patellar tendonitis is pain towards the bottom of the kneecap. This pain may only be felt intermittently but as the tendonitis worsens the pain is likely to become more constant and more limiting. Certain movements, such as kneeling or climbing stairs may cause the pain to increase. You may find that you also experience some swelling around your knee.

Patellar tendonitis can usually be managed and treated without need for surgery and in most cases you should expect to feel improvement within a couple of weeks. If your pain is more severe, or continues for longer, assessment by a consultant would be advised to help accurately determine the extent of the tendonitis and of any damage to the tendon.

Pain cause by patellar tendonitis can usually be treated effectively using one of the following methods:

  • Ice: A cold ice pack on the affected knee may help to reduce swelling and pain.
  • Medication: Painkillers, particularly non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen, can help to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
  • Physiotherapy: Your consultant may recommend that you see a physiotherapist for help. If the tendonitis in your knee has been caused by overuse, our Circle physiotherapists will be able to help show you alternative ways to carry out certain movements, in order to lower the risk of experiencing tendonitis again. This therapy can be particularly helpful for sportspeople, who are often required to perform the types of repetitive movements that can increase the risk of tendonitis.
  • Rest: Sometimes, the best thing you can do to aid recovery from tendonitis in your knee is to rest your leg. While this may appear impractical, rest can promote healing as well as remove the risk of putting any additional strain on the affected tendon by mistake.
  • Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injection: This form of platelet therapy uses an individual’s own healing system to encourage healing. This involves injecting plasma taken from the patient’s own blood platelets directly into the knee for speedy pain relief.


In more severe or long-term cases of tendonitis, you may be advised to have surgery. Long-term tendonitis in the knee can sometimes lead to a tear/rupture of the tendon; if this occurs, surgery will probably be required to repair the damage. Should surgery be necessary, this will be explained in detail by your Circle consultant and you will have the chance to ask them any questions you may have. Following your operation, the physiotherapy team in your Circle hospital will help and support you throughout your recovery and help you to mobilise your knee safely and as quickly as medically appropriate.

At Circle, it is easy to book an appointment with one of our orthopaedic surgeons today, at a time that is convenient for you. If you are struggling with pain in your knee and think it may be caused by tendonitis, why not book a time to come and talk to one of our knee specialists? They will be able to expertly and accurately assess the cause of your pain, the extent of any damage and advise you on the best treatment option for you.

If you’ve been dealing with pain and/or less movement in your knee and/or leg for a while, the last thing you want is to have to wait any longer for it to be treated. At Circle, we have no waiting lists, meaning that you will be seen by one of our consultants promptly and receive any treatment you need without delay.

Fast track your treatment

Just enter your details below and we'll ring you to provide a quote or answer your questions.

Fast track your treatment

Just enter your details below and we'll ring you to provide a quote or answer your questions. We will use your personal information to process your enquiry and contact you with relevant information. For further information, please see our website privacy policy.

0118 911 4887

Circle Health Group, 1st Floor, 30 Cannon Street, London, EC4M 6XH