Introduction: This research evaluated the effect of tendinopathy on the cumulative transverse strain response of the patellar tendon to a bout of resistive quadriceps exercise.
Methods: Nine adults with unilateral patellar tendinopathy (age 18.2+/-0.7 years, height 1.92+/-0.06 m and weight 76.8+/-6.8 kg) and ten healthy adults free of knee pain (age 17.8+/-0.8 years, height 1.83+/-0.05 m and weight 73.2+/-7.6 kg) underwent standardised sagittal sonograms (7.2-14 MHz linear-array transducer) of both patellar tendons immediately prior and following 45 repetitions of a double-leg decline-squat exercise performed against a resistance of 145% bodyweight. Tendon thickness was determined 5-mm and 25-mm distal to the patellar pole. Transverse Hencky strain was calculated as the natural log of the ratio of post- to pre-exercise tendon thickness and expressed as a percentage. Measures of tendon echogenicity were calculated within the superficial and deep aspects of each tendon site from gray-scale profiles. Intratendinous microvessels were evaluated using power Doppler ultrasound.
Results: The cumulative transverse strain response to exercise in symptomatic tendinopathy was significantly lower than that of asymptomatic and healthy tendon (P<.05). There was also a significant reduction (57%) in the area of microvascularity immediately following exercise (P=.05), which was positively correlated (r=0.93, P<.05) with VISA-P score.
Conclusions: This study is the first to show that patellar tendinopathy is associated with an altered morphological and mechanical response of the tendon to exercise, which is manifest by a reduction in cumulative transverse strain and microvascularity, when present. Research directed toward identifying factors that influence the acute microvascular and transverse strain response of the patellar tendon to exercise in the various stages of tendinopathy is warranted.
(C) 2014 American College of Sports Medicine