Dez Bryant: Deciphering the Patellar Tendinitis Diagnosis

An MRI on Bryant’s injured knee reportedly showed patellar tendinitis yesterday. That was a reassuring finding after Bryant limped off the field after running a route and was unable to finish practice, leading to fears that Bryant may have sprained his knee or worse. However, it’s worth noting that the nature and timeline of Bryant’s injury may not necessarily fit the MRI diagnosis.

Patellar tendinitis is a common injury, but it’s almost always the result of inflammation that builds up over time – an “overuse” injury – than the result of a single and specific injury. As with so many other medical discussions, this is something of a semantic distinction, but a potentially important one. Though it is possible that Bryant’s patellar tendon was already showing enough inflammation to be given a diagnosis of tendinitis, I think there are two other more likely scenarios here.

Bryant’s injury may not be “new,” but a Week 1 return is possible.
(Photo by AJ Guel Photography)

The first, and probably more likely scenario given the tendinitis diagnosis, is that Bryant already had some existing irritation within his patellar tendon that was aggravated in practice. The other possible scenario is that Bryant’s patellar tendon injury is new and would be more correctly termed a strain than tendinitis.

Pointing these differences out is worthwhile for a few reasons.

First, I think there’s something to be said for being precise, especially when trying to decipher the incomplete (and sometimes intentionally misleading) reports we’re given on injuries. More importantly in this particular case, however, is that a more accurate description and diagnosis helps us understand why the Cowboys are pleased that the MRI findings were minor yet will reportedly be very cautious with Bryant for the rest of the preseason.

While rest and anti-inflammatories should improve Bryant’s condition, inflammation or a strain of the tendon puts Bryant at risk for future problems. That could include chronic pain in the knee or – though much less likely – tendon rupture.

Overuse injuries are usually considered day-to-day issues, with recovery taking days to weeks depending on many different factors. It’s possible that Bryant would not have missed any regular season time with this injury, but it will be surprising to see Bryant return before the end of the preseason. Despite the likelihood of an extended preseason absence, Cowboys fans and fantasy owners shouldn’t worry about Bryant’s availability for Week 1 unless he’s unable to make it back on the practice field by the end of next week.

Categories: Injury Updates

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2 replies

  1. Great stuff as always!

  2. Best injury coverage on the internet. Keep it up.

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