Knee injury: tendonitis v tendonosis?

A history: I decided to start the Couch to 5k programme in May 2011 so I went to a running shop, had gait analysis and bought some neutral running shoes. I did the C25k without a single problem: no twinges, not even a blister. I stuck at running 5k three times a week then started lengthening my long run at the weekend by 10% until I was regularly running 10k. Again, with absolutely no problems. I decided to enter a local half marathon in November 2011 and increased my long runs by a few k each week, if I remember correctly I think I did 12k, 14k, 15k, 18k, 20k then ran the half. All without any pain or problems, apart from having general muscle fatigue. After the HM I had a couple of weeks off to recover, and started running again in January 2012.

I stuck to a couple of 5k runs during the week and a 10k run at the weekend, but started to get pain below my right knee. It's a pain I've had a couple of times before - I used to go on walking holidays and it would kick in after a full day of walking. It particularly hurts to go downhill or downstairs but it's always cleared up after a bit of rest, and because I've had it before I wasn't worried. But this time it didn't really go away, I carried on running with it but my distances got shorter and shorter. I should have stopped completely but I didn't. After a bit of research I decided that I would have a go at barefoot running and see if I could cure myself.

I started with tiny distances, just 1-2k, and loved it. My calves took a little while to adjust but after a few months I was running 5k without the old knee pain. Success! But then I developed a new pain in the same knee but a different place, now above the knee cap. Again, stupidly, I carried on running but my distances got shorter until I could only manage 3k before the pain made me stop and walk. To start with I only got the pain in my knee when I was running, but then my knee started hurting on and off all the time.

Now I haven't run since September 2012, and my knee hurts every day. In December I went to see a specialist who said he could feel a lump or thickening of the tendon above my knee cap but without an ultrasound or MRI could't tell me exactly what the problem was, therefore couldn't recommend treatment. He suggested I go to my GP, who he would write to recommending a scan because the injury was in the soft tissue not bone. I went to my GP who diagnosed "probably tendonitis" told me to take Ibuprofen for a week, which didn't help, and sent me for an x-ray to see if there was any calcification, which as predicted came back completely normal.

My GP has now said the next step is to try an injection, but to be honest if he can't give me a definite diagnosis he's not going anywhere near my knee with a needle. I'm just hoping that this will sound familiar to someone, and that there might be someone who could offer some advice. The pain is above my right knee, to the outside, and from looking at various pics on google images I think it's the tendon that attaches the vastus lateralis to my knee. I also think it sounds more like tendonosis than tendonitis, as there's no swelling. What worries me is that there's been no real improvement for the last 3 or 4 months... Hoping to hear from anyone who's epxerienced something similar and recovered!


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