Strain patterns in the patellar tendon and the implications for patellar tendinopathy

Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2002 Jan;10(1):2-5. doi: 10.1007/s001670100224. Epub 2001 Aug 16.


This study investigated the strain pattern in human patellar tendon in an area of the tendon where changes commonly associated with patellar tendinitis are found. Eight fresh frozen human knees were instrumented with strain gauges on both the anterior and posterior side of the proximal patellar tendon. Both static and dynamic measurements were carried out in a range from 0 degrees to 60 degrees of flexion. We found uniform tensile strain in the tendon with the knee in full extension. However, as the knee was brought into flexion, the tensile strain increased on the anterior side but decreased on the posterior side in the central, proximal location of the tendon. The posterior side of the proximal patellar tendon is most commonly affected in patellar tendinopathy. This study indicates that this area of the tendon may not subjected to the highest tensile loads in the functional flexion range. It is possible that stress shielding is more important etiological factor in insertional tendinopathy as opposed to repetitive tensile loads.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / complications
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Knee Joint / physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Patella / physiology*
  • Patella / physiopathology
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Tendinopathy / etiology
  • Tendinopathy / physiopathology*
  • Tendons / physiology*
  • Tendons / physiopathology
  • Tensile Strength / physiology