Dry needling for quadriceps tendonitis can be an important part of relieving pain and getting you back to normal activity. As part of an overall rehab plan, dry needling for knee tendonitis is a good conservative treatment that may make a difference where other treatments have failed.
Tendinitis vs Tendinosis – A Quick Note on the Difference
Most of us are familiar with tendinitis, and for the purpose of this content, quadriceps tendinitis. You may not be as familiar with the term tendinosis. The location of the tendon pain, the quadriceps tendon is the same. However, the nature of the injury is slightly different.
Quadriceps tendinitis involves acute inflammation at the site of the tendon. The area above your patella is painful and may be swollen, inflamed, and red.
Quadriceps tendinosis involves disorganized healing of the tendon. The tendon in these cases is chronically irritated and is continuously trying to heal very small tears of the tendon. This can result in disorganized healing where the tendon becomes thickened and there is scar tissue built up around the area.
The main difference is the time you’ve experienced the pain and injury. For the sake of clarity, we’ll discuss quadriceps tendonitis. However, know that this discussion also applies to tendinosis and the treatment is similar in many ways.
Symptoms of Quadriceps Tendonitis
Quadriceps Tendonitis is tendonitis of the quadriceps tendon. When diagnosing tendonitis, the location of symptoms is a huge clue. There are a few different types of tendonitis in the knee. If you can pinpoint the location of your pain, and it’s above your knee, that’s a good diagnostic indicator its quadriceps tendonitis. Some of the symptoms of quadriceps tendonitis in your knee include:
- If you have quadriceps tendonitis it’s painful in the front of your knee right above your knee cap.
- You may have swelling right above your knee cap.
- Stiffness and pain above your kneecap that gets better with movement.
- Swelling in the area above your kneecap.
- Redness, warmth, and swelling above your knee cap.
Conventional Treatment for Quadriceps Tendonitis
Initial treatment: Conventional medical treatment for quadriceps tendonitis includes rest and NSAID OTC medication. Essentially, this treatment is aimed at reducing pain and inflammation. The pros to this strategy are that it’s affordable and easy. The cons to this treatment strategy are that you may not be able to or want to rest and that it doesn’t address what exactly is causing your tendonitis.
Follow-up treatment: If initial treatment has failed or hasn’t lead to full recovery, then physical therapy or a steroid injection is recommended as a follow-up. Physical therapy for 6-8 weeks can certainly help you recover. Steroid shots are another option, but they will likely yield improvement for a limited amount of time and over the long term they cause the tendon to weaken.
Dry Needling for Quadriceps Tendonitis
There are 2 main goals of dry needling for quadriceps tendonitis or any knee tendonitis:
- Reduce myofascial trigger points that may be producing some of your pain. Dry needling can reduce pain and reduce muscle tension.
- Improve the function of muscles around the knee and restore proper balance and flexibility to your muscles. This restores normalcy to motor end plates and speeds up the active rehab process.
If you’re confused about what a myofascial trigger point is, see this content where I cover this topic as it relates to knee pain –> Dry Needling for Knee Pain
For more on the experience and details of dry needling for knee pain, I answer some of your concerns here –> Dry Needling for Knee Pain Explained
Dry needling can be an important part of your rehabilitation from quadriceps tendonitis, but it’s important to know there’s more involved. Once you’re able to get some pain relief, you need to rehab the area. Our chiropractic providers are trained in this and can help you with this next step as well.
After Dry Needling for Quadriceps Tendonitis – The Rehab Process
It’s important to know that dry needling is not a stand-alone therapy for your quadriceps tendonitis. Dry needling can be an important step in the process, but overall, you need to address the structural and muscle dysfunction issues that lead to it.
Quadriceps tendonitis is not usually from an acute injury, but instead from repetitive movement dysfunction or overuse. This means that if dry needling provides relief of your pain, it’s likely to return unless you address the errant movement pattern.
How do we do this? We get you on a home exercise program to rehab the injury and correct your deficits. By addressing your quadriceps tendonitis with a rehab program we’re able to:
- Calm down overactive muscles.
- Activate lazy muscles that aren’t doing their job.
- Build tendon strength in the irritated tendons.
- Gain strength in muscles that are weak.
Our chiropractic providers design a specific rehab program for you that you can perform daily at home. We’ll cover the exercises, make sure you’re doing them correctly, and answer any questions you have about them. As your quadriceps tendonitis improves, we’ll progress you through a home exercise program until you’re pain-free and have returned to full activity.
Additional Therapy for Quadriceps Tendonitis
In addition to dry needling for quadriceps tendonitis and your home exercise program, our chiropractic physicians may also use some of the following therapies to aid in your recovery:
- Therapeutic ultrasound to speed up healing of the tendon and relieve pain in your knee region.
- Graston Technique instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization to speed up new connective tissue proliferation and to address areas of fascia that are contributing to your quadriceps tendonitis.
- Chiropractic manipulative therapy (chiropractic adjustments) to address joint restrictions that could be contributing to your quadriceps tendonitis and limiting full and normal joint movement.
Each case of quadriceps tendonitis is unique, so your provider will create a comprehensive plan that will get you pain-free and back to full function as soon as possible.
Dr. Jason Williams DC is a chiropractic physician practicing at AccessHealth Chiropractic in Cary, NC. He treats neuromusculoskeletal pain and injuries using chiropractic manipulation, dry needling, acupuncture, rehab exercise strategies, and other supportive therapies. Primary areas of focus include back pain, neck pain, muscular pain, extremity pain, and orthopedic injuries. Dr. Williams is experienced in treating athletes, especially those in the CrossFit, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, and MMA community.
If you’re interested in whether he or another AccessHealth provider can help you, navigate to our contact page or follow this link to request an appointment.