Chondromalacia Patella Treatment

Chondromalacia Patella Treatment

Chondromalacia patella is when the cartilage under the patella begins to soften causing pain and swelling. The cartilage rubs against the end of the femur causing irritation. Chondromalacia patella is caused by trauma or overuse of the knee that results in improper kneecap movement. Treatment and rehabilitation involve creating a straighter pathway for the patella during muscle contraction. (quadriceps muscles) Conservative treatment is recommended.


Pain management involves:

  • avoiding motions that cause pain
  • icing
  • anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen
  • topical pain creams


Strengthening exercises are needed to normalize the patellar tracking, as well as, cardiovascular conditioning and occasionally bracing. Low resistance exercise includes such things as:

  • pool running
  • swimming (flutter kick)
  • stationary bicycling


For effective and long lasting prevention it is important to stretch and strengthen the quadriceps and hamstring muscle groups. Full squat exercises need to be avoided. Prevention is based on avoiding activities that aggravate the condition (running, jumping ). Long-term prevention includes strengthening muscles.


There are several risk factors that predispose an individual to chondromalacia patella condition including:

  • overweight
  • previous injury, fracture, or dislocation
  • strenuous exercises
  • teenage and young adult, more often female


Causes include:

  • overuse of the knee joints
  • wear and tear in the elderly
  • trauma
  • muscles to the knee from hips are misaligned or have poor positioning


Treatment begins with a physical examination to determine the cause of pain. The physician then may order:

  • blood tests to rule out arthritis and inflammation
  • X-rays
  • MRI – to show details
  • arthroscopy – to look at the cartilage


Self-care to help in the healing process include:

  • changing to low impact exercises
  • stretching and strengthening exercises
  • lose weight
  • shoe inserts and supportive devices
  • wearing proper sports shoes


If conservative treatment fails after several months, surgery may be recommended. Using an arthroscope, the physician can assess the cartilage and determine if the misalignment needs to be corrected surgically. In some cases, a lateral release may be done if the tissue on the kneecap is too tight.

The outlook is positive. With optimal conditions, there can be a rapid recovery and regain functionality.

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