Softening of the knee cartilage.
Causes of Chondromalacia Patella
Chondromalacia Patella occurs in adolescents and young adults,
more frequently in women. The cause is thought to be related to overuse, trauma and/or
abnormal forces on the knee. Many affected adolescents have a mildly abnormal alignment of
the Patella (knee cap) and femur. Affected people of all ages have knee pain and a grating
or grinding sensation when they extend their knee.
Symptoms of Chondromalacia
Knee pain in the front of the knee that worsens after sitting for prolonged time
Knee pain that worsens with using stairs or getting out of a chair
A grating sensation in the knee
Diagnosis of Chondromalacia Patella
A physical examination of the knee is not specific but may
suggest the diagnosis. The knee may be tender and mildly swollen. The kneecap may not be
perfectly lined up with the femur (thigh bone) underneath.
X-rays are usually normal.
Treatment of Chondromalacia
Temporary rest or immobilization of the affected joint and
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be effective in relieving pain. Physical therapy,
especially quadriceps strengthening and hamstring stretching, is helpful. Participation in
sports or strenuous activity should be limited until the pain has resolved.
Surgery is beneficial if there is a problem with the alignment of the Patella that
cannot be corrected with therapy. Depending on the nature of the misalignment, the surgery
may be arthroscopic or open.
The condition usually improves with therapy and non-steroidal
anti-inflammatory medications. For the few people that need it, surgery is successful
about 90% of the time.
Complications of Chondromalacia
Failure of treatment to relieve pain is the primary
When surgery is necessary, surgical complications include infection, failure to relieve
pain, and worsening pain.
Prevention of Chondromalacia
Avoid trauma or abnormal stress on the knee.Keep the leg muscles
strong and flexible, especially the quadriceps and the hamstrings.