ChondromalaciaChondromalacia (sometimes also called patellofemoral pain syndrome) occurs when the cartilage under the kneecap is softened or damage abnormally. This cartilage allows your femur (thigh bone) and kneecap to glide smoothly over one another when you walk or move. Irritation in this area can cause varying degrees of pain, depending on if the damage is minor or severe. In fact, chondromalacia is one of the most common causes of chronic knee pain.
Causes of ChondromalaciaThe leading cause of chondromalacia is poor kneecap alignment, also known as patellar tracking. The incorrect positioning of the kneecap can cause the patella to rub against the femur, causing pain and inflammation. Runners that are knock-kneed or flat-footed are also at high risk for this condition. Chrondromalacia is commonly seen as an overuse injury from sports that involve a lot of running and jumping. Females are at a higher risk for chondromalacia, most likely because a female's wider hips increases the angle at which the thigh bone meets with the knee. Those with previous knee injuries are also more likely to develop chondromalacia.
Symptoms of ChondromalaciaKnee pain and tenderness are the most obvious symptoms of chondromalacia, especially in the front of the knee. This knee pain is especially prevalent when getting up after sitting down for a long time, kneeling or squatting, or when you use stairs. Some patients may also experience a grating or grinding sensation when bending the knee. If you think you might be suffering from chondromalacia, we recommend you see a medical professional.
How to Treat ChondromalaciaOne of the first steps a doctor may recommend in treating chondromalacia is to rest your knee and avoid activities that cause pain, such as going up and down stairs. Icing your knee and taking anti-inflammatory pain relievers such as ibuprofen or aspirin can also be helpful in managing the initial pain.
Your health care provider or physical therapist may also suggest stretching and strengthening exercises that improve the muscles that support your knees. This makes the muscles in the area tighter and more likely to hold your kneecap in the proper position.
When you return to physical activity, a patella tracking brace is recommended, such as the DonJoy Reaction Knee Brace. It has a unique web-like design that helps stabilize your kneecap on all sides for proper alignment. You can view more patella stabilizers here.