Kawhi Leonard Quadriceps Injury
As the raptors enter the 2019 NBA Finals there is no talk of Kawhi Leonard’s previous long standing quadriceps injury that had limited his action in the 2017-2018 NBA season. Reports statEd that he was diagnosed with quadriceps tendinopathy. Basically, with overuse of the quadriceps muscle, Kawhi likely first developed irritation and inflammation of the tendon, called quadriceps tendonitis. Over time, if the tendonitis persists, the tissue can undergo changes that cause the tendon to develop a more chronic pain. The underlying changes to the tendon can include degeneration of the tissue and increased nerve and blood vessel growth. The combination of these changes cause the tendon to be unable to handle the same stress it could handle before and be more sensitized to pain.
As evidenced by missing the end of last season, it is very difficult to treat. Athletes can rest and do months of physical therapy, only to return back to activity and have the same pain return. Although most medical providers rely on an MRI for more information regarding sports injuries, tendinopathy can many times be seen with a simple ultrasound of the area. If the tendinopathy has progressed to Kawhi's stage, you can likely see the degenerative tissue within the tendon.
What it likely took to return?
The big question is what did Kawhi and his team do to get Kawhi back to normal? If he has failed the physical therapy options discussed in the quadriceps tendinopathy post, he most likely had an ultrasound guided needling of the tendon. Basically, this works by using a needle to disrupt and stimulate the degenerative tissue under guidance of the ultrasound. Some medical providers will also inject the patient's own blood or serum at the same time, as there is thought to be growth factors that can help healing. I’m just guessing but, but it’s likely he received a PRP injection similar to what is described above. The hope is that after the procedure the body will fill these areas back in with normal, healthy tissue. The healing process takes time and is likely why he missed a substantial part of last year. Additionally, there is mounting evidence that these type of treatments work well and that is likely why Kawhi Leonard has seen the success and health.