About Chondromalacia Patella
Chondromalacia patella causes pain in the front of the knee and is the most common cause of chronic knee pain. The kneecap (patella) is normally attached to the thighbone (femur) in a straight line by the quadriceps muscle. When the kneecap is poorly aligned with the thighbone's end, the knee tracks to the bone's outside edge. The cartilage degenerates because of the abnormal grating between the bones and causes chronic pain and inflammation. This condition results in chondromalacia patella.
What Are the Symptoms of Chondromalacia Patella?
Symptoms of chondromalacia patella can include:
- Discomfort in the inner front side of the knee
- Aggravation of discomfort due to activity – running, climbing up or downstairs, jumping
- Aggravation of discomfort due to sitting with knees bent
- A sense of tightness in the knee area
- Loss of quadriceps muscle strength
- Mild swelling of the knee area
How is Chondromalacia Patella Diagnosed?
An orthopedist can make a diagnosis of chondromalacia patella through a physical examination. It is suspected in patients with anterior (front) knee pain, especially in females, teenagers and young adults, flat-footed runners, and people with an abnormally shaped patella.
A positive "shrug" sign — pain when pressing onto the knee while the quadriceps muscle is engaged — indicates chondromalacia patella.
X-rays or MRI can also confirm inflammation on the backside of the kneecap.
Chondromalacia Patella Treatment Options
Initially, management to decrease inflammation will help. Begin by avoiding movements that aggravate the kneecap, utilizing icing, and taking anti-inflammatory medications. The chondromalacia patella's primary treatment goal is to create a smoother and straighter pathway for the kneecap to follow when the quadriceps muscle contracts. Practicing this will help the kneecap track more smoothly, avoid grating the bone, and prevent further cartilage deterioration.
The inner portion of the quadriceps muscle and the hamstring muscle group needs to be strengthened to normalize the kneecap's tracking. To achieve this via low resistance, stationary bicycle and running in a pool or swimming. A physical therapy program focused on developing the correct muscle groups is essential to rehabilitate the condition effectively. To avoid repeated issues, patients need to make sure they are wearing running shoes that properly fit. They should also avoid squat exercises with weights. Sometimes using a knee brace will help. Surgery is considered infrequently.
Recovery is usually quick, and patients should be able to return to full function.
Schedule an Appointment with an Orthopedist
Don't allow injuries to get in the way of activities you enjoy. If you are experiencing knee pain, consult an orthopedist to help you get back on track and prevent future injuries. Gustavel Orthopedics is the leading provider of sports medicine and orthopedic specialties in Boise, ID. Dr. Gustavel is a renowned orthopedic surgeon and is well experienced in diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal injuries related to sports and exercise. Contact us to make your appointment now!