The injury is diagnosed using a physical exam and sometimes an ultrasound. The injury is obvious due to the area and type of pain as well as inflammation of the tendon.
Conservative treatment for this condition includes strengthening the quadriceps muscle and stretching the hamstrings, the muscles at the back of the thigh. Pain medications, cryotherapy, and massage have also been found to be useful. Sometimes, an athlete can be fitted with a knee support or straps that allow him to decrease force on a particular section of the tendon.
Most doctors warn that proper training in the preseason is a good way to prevent this injury. Tendinitis is not a serious injury and is merely caused by repetitive strain. For a place kicker, it may be the result of a slight change in his kicking motion, but there are no studies showing which particular motion might irritate the tendons of the plant leg. Place kickers have a higher probability of developing a minor knee injury like this because of the constant strain they place on the tendons of the knee. Tendinitis of the knee may be linked to a particularly hard playing surface, change in shoes, or insufficient warm-ups.
This type of tendinitis usually takes 6-12 weeks to fully heal; however, the symptoms are mild enough that athletes can continue to play through the pain. Often, athletes modify their practicing or playing habits to minimize pain.
Wilkins' injury is not likely to recur in the future. Most athletes who experience tendinitis once complete their careers without any further related discomfort or pain.
Medical information was provided by Michael J. Ciccotti MD, director of sports medicine at the Rothman Institute at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. Ciccotti is also the team physician for the Philadelphia Phillies.