Chondromalacia Patella is an irritation of the cartilage underneath the knee cap (patella). It commonly occurs in activities that require continuous movement, such as running or jumping. It is also common in older people, who have "worn out" the cartilage with use. Chondromalacia Patella is also called patellofemoral pain.
Symptoms of Chondromalacia
The pain occurs with walking up or down stairs, or prolonged sitting. Kneeling can be especially painful. Many people describe a dull achy pain with occasional sharp stabs when climbing stairs. Sometimes a grinding sensation is present.
Causes of Chondromalacia Patella
In younger individuals, muscle imbalances combined with prolonged repetitive activities are common causes of chondromalacia. Overuse, direct injury, or unusual alignment of the knee cap can also cause patellofemoral pain. Weak quadriceps muscles and flat feet can also contribute to the pain.
In muscle imbalance, the lateral quadriceps becomes stronger than the inside muscles. The stronger muscle pulls the knee cap toward the side. Instead of the patella running properly in its groove, the stronger lateral quadriceps muscle pulls the patella to the side. This causes patella rub against the femur bone and aggravate the cartilage underneath the patella.
Home Treatments for Patellofemoral Pain
Initial treatment at home involves rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory pain relievers. Avoiding running, lifting, or kneeling activities which will allow the cartilage to heal. It often requires several weeks of rest to make a difference in moderate to severe cases.
Office Treatments for Chondromalacia Patella
A provider will look to determine the cause of cartilage irritation. Common treatments for muscle imbalances include identifying the stronger muscle and relaxing it. Strengthening the weaker muscles and improving the proprioceptive ability of the knee are proper treatments. Physiotherapy will include decreasing the inflammation and controlling the pain.
Orthotics are considered for people with foot and ankle discrepancies. Taping and braces are sometimes utilized for treatments of Chondromalacia Patella. In cases that fail to resolve with conservative treatment, surgery can be considered.