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Keywords:

  • tendon mechanical properties;
  • jumper's knee;
  • patellar tendon;
  • collagen crosslinks

A randomized-controlled single-blind trial was conducted to investigate the clinical, structural and functional effects of peritendinous corticosteroid injections (CORT), eccentric decline squat training (ECC) and heavy slow resistance training (HSR) in patellar tendinopathy. Thirty-nine male patients were randomized to CORT, ECC or HSR for 12 weeks. We assessed function and symptoms (VISA-p questionnaire), tendon pain during activity (VAS), treatment satisfaction, tendon swelling, tendon vascularization, tendon mechanical properties and collagen crosslink properties. Assessments were made at 0 weeks, 12 weeks and at follow-up (half-year). All groups improved in VISA-p and VAS from 0 to 12 weeks (P<0.05). VISA-p and VAS improvements were maintained at follow-up in ECC and HSR but deteriorated in CORT (P<0.05). In CORT and HSR, tendon swelling decreased (−13±9% and −12±13%, P<0.05) and so did vascularization (−52±49% and −45±23%, P<0.01) at 12 weeks. Tendon mechanical properties were similar in healthy and injured tendons and were unaffected by treatment. HSR yielded an elevated collagen network turnover. At the half-year follow-up, treatment satisfaction differed between groups, with HSR being most satisfied. Conclusively, CORT has good short-term but poor long-term clinical effects, in patellar tendinopathy. HSR has good short- and long-term clinical effects accompanied by pathology improvement and increased collagen turnover.