A patellar strap is a device used to treat injuries that occur to the patella tendon, which is found below the kneecap. In most cases, the strap is made of a strong and elastic material, and has a raised section placed over the tendon. The strap is used to provide compression, which can reduce pain and allow the user to continue with his or her exercise activities. Patellar straps are often used to address patella tendinitis.
A patellar strap is typically made from neoprene, which is a strong and durable material. Most straps are adjustable, so can be used by all athletes, and attach using Velcrow®. The compression provided by the strap can be adjusted by the athlete to provide the right level of support.
There are a large number of patellar straps available, but most perform similar functions. High quality straps are usually lighter and easier to adjust. It’s important that a strap doesn’t hinder activity, yet still provides good support for the tendon and knee. Any strap used for the patella should provide a constant level of support, and hence needs to be able to stretch.
Patella tendinitis, also known as jumper’s knee, is a painful condition that occurs when the tendon becomes inflamed. It is the most common injury treated using a patellar strap. The condition is usually the result of chronic knee overuse and is most often seen in runners as well as athletes who play sports such as basketball. Other conditions that a patellar strap can be used for include poor patellar tracking, knee instability, and chondromalacia.
It is not known exactly why a patellar strap reduces the pain associated with jumper’s knee and other conditions. The most likely explanation may be that the strap decreases the cross section of the tendon, which in turn reduces the force that occurs during running. A decreased amount of stress on the tendon results in less pain and minimizes the chance of the tendon being damaged further.
As patellar straps only reduce the pain, they are usually used as a component of other forms of treatment. An athlete or runner may also undergo a strengthening regime to permanently reduce stress on the tendon and improve patella tracking. Without additional rehabilitation, a patellar strap is often insufficient to cure a knee problem completely. The exception is if there is only mild inflammation in the tendon, which may subside without the need for additional treatment. Even so, knee strengthening may still be needed to prevent the problem reoccurring.