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What overuse problems are common in the knee?

Nature of overuse injury

When there has been repetitive stress, the knee structures may start to fail despite there having been no single major injury:

Stress fracture

A stress fracture is a bone break that can result from repetitive stress on the bone. The patella (kneecap) for example can break in athletes without there having been any specific injury.

Traction apophysitis

The bone where a tendon attaches can become stressed with repetitive strain, and it and its attached tendon can break off from the main part of the bone.


With repetitive stress the inside of a tendon can degenerate ('mucoid degeneration)' and render the tendon weak and painful.


The knee has a number of lubricating pockets, the surfaces of which slide over one another during movement. With overuse these pockets or 'bursae' can become inflamed and painful and fluid can collect inside them to form a swelling.

These are the more common overuse problems:

Osgood Schlatter's Disorder

Painful knobbly lump under the kneecap (tibial tubercle) in active young people. Usually associated with jumping activities.


Ilio-tibial friction band syndrome

Pain on the outer aspect of the knee joint, associated with a snapping sensation as the ligamentous restraints of the ilio-tibial band snap over a bony eminence.


Patellar tendinitis

Tendon damage just above the kneecap.


Quadriceps tendinitis

'Jumper's knee'. Pain just under the kneecap in the tendon. Worse after jumping activities. Due to a breakdown of the material right inside the tendon.


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Updated: 27 Sep, 2013

Dr Sheila Strover

Clinical Editor
BSc (Hons)

Dr Sheila Strover is the founder of the KNEEguru website. Although not a knee surgeon, she has a sound understanding of knee surgery and...

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