Chondromalacia Patella: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

The cartilage, a tough and rubbery type of tissue, cushions the joints in your body. As the joint moves, the cartilage cushions the bones, enabling them to glide against one another without friction.

Sometimes, the cartilage on the underside of the kneecap (patella) can soften and break down. This is known as chondromalacia patella. As the joint moves, the cartilage is unable to protect the ends of the bones. This can lead to the friction of the bones, causing pain.

Young people are more susceptible to chondromalacia of the knee than any other age group. It is also notably prevalent among runners, joggers, cyclists, and soccer athletes.

People who spend a significant amount of time kneeling, such as carpet layers, tile setters, and floor layers, are more likely to acquire this condition.

What are the symptoms of Chondromalacia Patella?

Symptoms of chondromalacia patella range from:

  • Dull, aching pain in the front of your knee, just behind your kneecap.
  • Pain aggravated by:
    • Walking up or down the stairs
    • After you have been sitting in one position for an extended period of time
    • Kneeling or squatting
  • Swollen knee
  • Grinding sensation in the knee

How is Chondromalacia Patella diagnosed?

Your doctor would first question your general health and symptoms before conducting a thorough physical examination. Diagnosis is made based on your reported symptoms, physical examination and investigations.

  • Imaging tests: X-ray, computed tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Arthroscopy: In arthroscopy, a surgeon makes a small incision in the patient's skin and inserts a small lens and lighting system to magnify and illuminate the joint's structures to aid in examination.

How is Chondromalacia Patella treated?

Simple, non-surgical treatments can alleviate knee pain for most people with chondromalacia patella.

  1. Non-surgical treatment
    • Rest your knee: Avoid activities that may aggravate your pain.
    • Ice your knee: Use a bag of ice, a cold gel pack or a bag of frozen vegetables to reduce pain and swelling.
    • Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen for pain relief.
    • Physiotherapy: To strengthen muscles around the knee.
    • Knee tape or brace: To maintain proper alignment of your kneecap.
  2. Surgical treatment

    If symptoms persist despite conservative treatment, your doctor may recommend surgery (arthroscopy).

    During arthroscopy, the damaged layers of the cartilage can be removed. The alignment of your kneecap or other parts of your knee can be corrected to reduce wear and tear on your knee cartilage.

How to prevent Chondromalacia Patella?

You can reduce the risk of developing chondromalacia by preventing knee injuries and joint overuse. For example:

  • Wear comfortable and supportive shoes that fit your feet, as foot alignment issues can increase your risk of knee injuries
  • Warm up thoroughly before engaging in physical activities.
  • Include exercises to strengthen the leg and knee muscles.
  • Maintain a healthy weight to avoid overstressing the knees.

Book an appointment at Pantai Hospitals

A dedicated and expert team of Orthopaedic specialists at Pantai Hospital is available for consultation to provide the best care and assistance. 

Get in touch with us to book an appointment today if you have concerns or questions regarding Chondromalacia Patella. We assure you the best possible care tailored to your specific needs.

Pantai Hospital has been accredited by the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH) for its commitment to patient safety and service quality.

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