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What does Chondromalacia Patella mean?
Also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, chondromalacia patella affects the cartilage under the kneecap (patella). This condition typically begins to cause knee pain by slowly softening and breaking down cartilage in the patellofemoral joint. This is from when the patella moves within the groove at the end of the thigh bone (femur).
Chondromalacia Patella Symptoms
- Anterior knee pain particularly behind or around the kneecap.
- Pain that worsens with activities such as climbing stairs, kneeling, or squatting.
- A feeling of grinding or grating when moving the knee.
- Swelling and inflammation around the knee joint.
Indications of Chondromalacia Patella
The exact cause of chondromalacia patella can vary, but it often associates with the following factors:
- Muscle imbalances: Weakness or tightness in the muscles around the knee, especially the quadriceps and hamstrings, can contribute to abnormal patellar tracking.
- Overuse or repetitive stress: Activities that involve repetitive knee bending, such as running, jumping, or cycling, can increase risk.
- Trauma: A direct blow or injury to the knee can damage the cartilage and lead to chondromalacia patellae.
- Structural issues: Certain anatomical factors, such as flat feet or a shallow groove in the femur, can increase risk of misalignment.
Rest and Recovery
- Rest: Give your knee time to heal by avoiding activities that increase pain, especially high-impact activities and sports.
- Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can develop a personalized program to strengthen the surrounding knee muscles, particularly the quadriceps muscles. Developing these muscles can help stabilize the knee joint and reduce stress on the patella.
- RICE Therapy:
- Rest: Rest the affected knee to reduce inflammation and pain.
- Ice: Apply ice to the knee for 15-20 minutes every 2-3 hours to reduce swelling.
- Compression: Use a compression bandage to support the knee and reduce swelling.
- Elevation: Elevate the leg when possible to help reduce swelling.
- Medications: Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, should alleviate pain and inflammation.
- Bracing: Using knee braces or patellar stabilizing braces can help support the joint and improve patellar tracking.
- Activity Modification: Modify or temporarily stop activities that exacerbate the pain, especially activities that involve knee bending or impact.
- Orthotics: Custom-made or over-the-counter shoe inserts (orthotics) can help correct abnormal foot mechanics that contribute to the condition.
- Corticosteroid Injections: In some cases, a healthcare provider may administer corticosteroid injections into the knee joint to reduce inflammation and pain.
- Surgical Interventions: Your healthcare provider may recommend surgical options, such as arthroscopy, to address any structural issues or realign the patella.
It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and to develop a tailored treatment plan based on the severity and specific factors contributing to chondromalacia patellae.