Chondromalacia patellae is a condition characterized by damage or softening of the cartilage on the underside of the patella (kneecap). It is also sometimes referred to as patellofemoral pain syndrome or runner’s knee. Chondromalacia patellae is a common cause of anterior knee pain, especially in young adults, athletes, and people who participate in activities that require repetitive bending of the knee.
Causes of Chondromalacia Patellae
Chondromalacia patellae can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Overuse or repetitive strain of the knee joint
- Trauma or injury to the knee, such as a direct blow or fall
- Malalignment of the patella, or kneecap, which can put excessive stress on the joint and cause the cartilage to wear down
- Muscle imbalances or weaknesses, particularly of the quadriceps and hip muscles, which can affect the alignment and stability of the patella
- Abnormal patellar tracking, where the patella does not move smoothly within the groove of the femur, can also contribute to the development of chondromalacia patellae.
Certain factors can also increase the risk of developing chondromalacia patellae, including age, gender (females are more likely to develop the condition than males), and participation in activities that require frequent bending of the knee, such as running, jumping, and cycling.
Signs and Symptoms of Chondromalacia Patellae
Chondromalacia patellae is a condition in which the cartilage on the underside of the kneecap (patella) softens and breaks down. This can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness in the knee. Here are some signs and symptoms of chondromalacia patellae:
- Knee pain: The most common symptom of chondromalacia patellae is knee pain. The pain is often located under or around the kneecap and may be worse when bending or straightening the knee, climbing stairs, or sitting for long periods of time.
- Swelling: The knee may become swollen, especially after exercise or other physical activity.
- Grinding or clicking sensation: Some people with chondromalacia patellae may feel a grinding or clicking sensation when they move their knee.
- Stiffness: The knee may feel stiff, especially after sitting for long periods of time or when waking up in the morning.
- Weakness: The muscles around the knee may feel weak, which can affect your ability to walk, climb stairs, or participate in physical activity.
- Instability: Some people with chondromalacia patellae may feel that their knee is unstable or gives way.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Treatment for Chondromalacia Patellae
Physiotherapy is an effective treatment option for chondromalacia patellae. Here are some common physiotherapy treatments:
Strengthening exercises: Exercises that focus on strengthening the muscles around the knee can help improve joint stability and reduce pain. These exercises may include squats, lunges, leg presses, and calf raises.
Range of motion exercises: Stretching and range of motion exercises can help improve flexibility and reduce stiffness in the knee.
Manual therapy: This may include techniques such as massage, mobilization, and manipulation to help reduce pain, improve joint mobility, and enhance the healing process.
Electrical stimulation: Electrical stimulation can help reduce pain and promote healing by stimulating the muscles around the knee.
Taping and bracing: Taping or bracing the knee can help reduce pain and improve joint stability.
Modalities: Modalities such as ice, heat, and ultrasound can also be used to reduce pain and inflammation.
Your physiotherapist will develop a personalized treatment plan based on your specific needs and goals. It is important to follow the treatment plan consistently to achieve the best results.
If you have any questions or would like to speak to a therapist about chondromalacia patellae please call us at 03 9836 1126.
Jahanjoo, F., Yoosefinejad, A. K., Sinaei, E., & Ebrahimi, S. (2021). The effect of a physiotherapy program on the pain and functional performance in patients with chondromalacia patellae. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies