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Chondromalacia Patella: Understanding Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment Options

Updated: Apr 14, 2023


Chondromalacia patella

Chondromalacia Patella: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment


Chondromalacia patella, also known as runner's knee, is a common condition that affects the knee joint. It is characterized by the softening and breakdown of the cartilage on the undersurface of the kneecap (patella), leading to pain and inflammation. This condition is most commonly seen in young adults and athletes, but anyone can develop chondromalacia patella at any age. In this article, we will discuss the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for chondromalacia patella in detail.

Symptoms of Chondromalacia Patella

The most common symptoms of chondromalacia patella include:

  • Pain: Pain in the front of the knee, especially when walking downstairs, squatting, or sitting with bent knees for an extended period of time. The pain may be a dull ache or a sharp pain that comes and goes.

  • Swelling: Swelling in the knee joint, which may be accompanied by pain and tenderness. The swelling may be small and go away quickly, or it may be larger and persist for several days or weeks.

  • Popping or crunching: A feeling of crunching or popping in the knee joint, especially when bending or extending the knee. This sound may be accompanied by pain or discomfort.

  • Stiffness: Stiffness in the knee joint, which may make it difficult to move the knee or perform normal daily activities. The knee may feel stiff, especially after sitting for an extended period of time or after sleeping.

  • Instability: A feeling of instability in the knee, as if the knee is giving way or buckling. This may make it difficult to walk or perform normal activities without fear of falling or injuring the knee.

These symptoms may develop gradually over time or come on suddenly after an injury. In some cases, the symptoms may be mild and go away on their own, while in other cases, they may be more severe and require medical attention.

Causes of Chondromalacia Patella

Chondromalacia patella can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Overuse: Repetitive stress and strain on the knee, such as from running, jumping, or cycling, can lead to the development of chondromalacia patella. This is particularly common in athletes and people who participate in high-impact sports.

  • Knee misalignment: If the kneecaps do not track properly over the underlying bones, it can lead to excessive wear and tear on the patellar cartilage, leading to chondromalacia. Knee misalignment can be caused by a variety of factors, including flat feet, bowed legs, and knock-knees.

  • Weak thigh muscles: Weak quadriceps muscles can increase the stress on the patella and lead to chondromalacia. The quadriceps muscles help to stabilize the knee and keep the patella properly aligned. If these muscles are weak, the patella may not track properly, leading to excessive wear and tear on the cartilage.

  • Trauma: Direct injury to the knee or a previous knee injury can increase the risk of developing chondromalacia. This can include a dislocated kneecap, a fracture, or a ligament tear.

  • Genetics: Some people may have a genetic predisposition to developing knee problems, including chondrom

  • Age: As we get older, the risk of knee problems, including chondromalacia, increases.


Treatment Options for Chondromalacia Patella

The treatment for chondromalacia patella depends on the severity of the condition and the individual's specific needs. Common treatments include:

  • Physical therapy: Physical therapy is often the first line of treatment for chondromalacia patella. A physical therapist will work with you to design a rehabilitation program that includes exercises to improve knee strength and stability, reduce pain, and increase range of motion.

  • Pain management: Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, or prescription pain medications can be used to relieve pain and inflammation.

  • Bracing: Wearing a knee brace can help to support the knee and reduce pressure on the patella, providing relief from pain and inflammation.

  • Activity modification: Avoiding activities that put excessive strain on the knee and finding alternative, low-impact exercises can help to manage symptoms and reduce the risk of further injury.

  • Injection therapy: In some cases, a doctor may recommend injection therapy, such as cortisone or hyaluronic acid, to reduce pain and inflammation in the knee joint.

  • Surgery: In severe cases of chondromalacia patella, surgery may be recommended to repair or replace damaged cartilage. Common surgical procedures include arthroscopy, which involves the removal of damaged cartilage, and osteotomy, which involves the reshaping of the bones to realign the knee.


It is important to work closely with your doctor to determine the best treatment plan for your specific needs. With the right combination of therapies and lifestyle modifications, most people with chondromalacia patella are able to manage their symptoms and live an active, pain-free life.


In conclusion, chondromalacia patella is a common condition that affects the knee joint, causing pain, inflammation, and other symptoms. With the right combination of treatments and lifestyle modifications, most people with chondromalacia patella are able to manage their symptoms and live an active, pain-free life. If you are experiencing symptoms of chondromalacia patella, it is important to seek medical attention to determine the best course of treatment for your needs.


Some most common questions


1.Will chondromalacia patella go away?


Chondromalacia patella is a condition where the cartilage on the undersurface of the kneecap (patella) softens and breaks down, leading to pain and inflammation. In some cases, the condition may improve on its own with conservative treatment, such as physical therapy and pain management. However, for more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the damaged cartilage.


2 . Is chondromalacia patella serious?


Chondromalacia patella can be a painful and debilitating condition that affects a person's quality of life and ability to perform daily activities. If left untreated, it can lead to other knee problems, such as osteoarthritis. However, with proper treatment and management, many people are able to find relief and improve their knee function.


3 .How do you fix chondromalacia of the knee?


The treatment for chondromalacia patella depends on the severity of the condition and the individual's specific needs. Common treatments include:

  • Physical therapy: exercises to improve knee strength and stability, reduce pain, and increase range of motion.

  • Pain management: over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, or prescription pain medications to relieve pain and inflammation.

  • Bracing: wearing a knee brace to support the knee and reduce pressure on the patella.

  • Activity modification: avoiding activities that put excessive strain on the knee and finding alternative, low-impact exercises.

  • Injection therapy: corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation and pain.

  • Surgery: in severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the damaged cartilage and restore normal knee function.



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