Chondromalacia Patella: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

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Chondromalacia is commonly seen as an overuse ailment in sports, and taking a few days off from training can occasionally provide positive outcomes. In other situations, poor knee alignment is to blame, and merely resting does not help. Runner’s knee symptoms include knee discomfort and grinding sensations, yet many people who suffer from it never seek medical attention. In this blog, we are going to shed light on everything you need to know about Chondromalacia Patella.

Chondromalacia Patella

Chondromalacia Patella

The majority of your body’s joints are cushioned by articular cartilage, a kind of tissue. This strong, rubbery tissue wraps around the ends of bones within a joint. The cartilage in the joint cushions the bones and allows them to slide smoothly against one another while the joint moves. The cartilage inside a joint can weaken and break down. Chondromalacia is the medical term for this ailment. As the joint moves, the cartilage loses its capacity to protect the ends of the bones. The ends of the bones might rub against one other, creating discomfort.

Chondromalacia can affect any joint, but the most frequent place is the underside of the kneecap (also known as the patella); when this ailment affects the knee, it is referred to as chondromalacia patella. It generally starts as a painful region of softened cartilage behind the kneecap. More cartilage weakens with time, and the softened cartilage might break or shred into a mess of fibers. In extreme situations, the injured cartilage might entirely wear away, exposing the undersurface of the kneecap. If this occurs, the bony surface of the exposed kneecap might grind uncomfortably against other knee bones. Furthermore, pieces of cartilage might float inside the joint, irritating the cells that border it. As a result, these cells may create additional fluid inside the joint (a condition known as joint effusion).

Chondromalacia Patella Causes

Chondromalacia Patella Causes

These are the following causes of Chondromalacia Patella: 

  • Muscle Imbalances: Weak or tight muscles around the knee can contribute.
  • Overuse or Injury: Excessive stress on the knee joint, common in athletes or those with repetitive movements.
  • Misalignment of the Patella: Poor tracking of the kneecap during movement.
  • Trauma: Direct injury to the knee can lead to cartilage damage.
  • Age and Wear: Natural wear and tear on cartilage over time.
  • Genetic Factors: Predisposition to joint issues can play a role.
  • Excessive Weight: Added stress on the knee joints from being overweight.

Chondromalacia Patella Symptoms

Chondromalacia Patella Symptoms

Chondromalacia can also cause your knee joint to “catch,” meaning it becomes difficult to move past a certain point, or “give way” (buckle unexpectedly). These symptoms are common when you frequently bend your knee, especially while going downstairs. The aching knee may also seem bloated or swollen in rare circumstances. When you move your knee, chondromalacia might generate a creaking sound or a grinding feeling. However, cracking sounds when bending may not always indicate that cartilage has been destroyed.

Chondromalacia Patella, commonly known as runner’s knee, manifests through a range of symptoms, often affecting the knee’s functionality and causing discomfort. There are some additional symptoms of this medical condition which are mentioned below: 

  • Pain Behind the Kneecap: Persistent pain or aching sensation behind or around the kneecap, especially after sitting for extended periods or engaging in physical activities.
  • Grinding Sensation: Some individuals may experience a grinding or grating feeling in the knee joint when moving, indicative of the rubbing of bones due to weakened cartilage.
  • Swelling and Inflammation: Swelling around the kneecap area, accompanied by visible or palpable inflammation, may occur as the body reacts to the damaged cartilage.
  • Stiffness and Limited Range of Motion: Chondromalacia Patella can be identified by a sense of stiffness in the knee joint, as well as difficulties fully straightening or bending the knee.
  • Increased Discomfort During Activities: Pain intensifies during activities that involve bending the knee, such as climbing stairs, kneeling, or squatting.

Treatment for Chondromalacia Patella

Treatment for Chondromalacia Patella

Here are common treatment options:

Rest and Activity Modification: 

  • Avoid activities that worsen symptoms, such as excessive kneeling or squatting.
  • Allow adequate rest for the knee to facilitate healing.

Physical Therapy:

  • Strengthening exercises for the muscles around the knee to provide better support.
  • Stretching exercises to improve flexibility.
  • Techniques to correct movement patterns that may contribute to the condition.

Pain Management:

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers (e.g., ibuprofen) to manage pain and reduce inflammation.
  • Topical analgesic creams or patches for localized relief.

Orthopedic Devices:

  • Knee braces or patellar straps to provide additional support and alleviate pressure on the kneecap.

Lifestyle Changes:

  • Weight management to reduce stress on the knee joint.
  • Proper footwear to ensure proper alignment during activities.


  • Corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
  • Hyaluronic acid injections to improve joint lubrication.

Surgical Interventions (in severe cases):

  • Arthroscopy to address damaged cartilage or correct alignment issues.
  • Realignment procedures to adjust the position of the patella.

Prevention Method For Chondromalacia Patellae

Prevention Method

Following these tips can help lower your chance of getting runner’s knee:

  • Avoid putting repetitive strain on your kneecaps. If you must spend time on your knees, use kneepads.
  • Strengthen your quadriceps, hamstrings, abductors, and adductors to achieve muscular balance.
  • Wear shoe inserts that raise your arch to treat flat feet. This will relieve strain on your knees and maybe realign the kneecap.
  • Finally, extra body weight might put a strain on your knees. Maintaining a healthy body weight might assist in relieving strain on the knees and other joints. Reduce your sugar and fat intake, eat lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, and exercise for at least 30 minutes five days a week to lose weight.

Top Exercises For Chondromalacia Patellae

Top Exercises

  • Quadriceps Stretch: Lie down on your back and bend your knee, bringing your heel to your bottom. To produce overpressure, use your palm or a towel. A stretch will be felt at the front of your thigh.
  • Knee Swing on a High Chair: Sit on a high chair or table (slightly on the edge) and dangle your leg. Relax after bending your knee as far as it feels comfortable. Maintain a calm, slow movement. You can also straighten your leg. This exercise is extremely beneficial for developing knee mobility. Sit on a solid table if you don’t have a high chair.
  • Ice the Knee: Apply an ice pack or frozen peas to the affected area. Wrap it with a small towel to keep it from becoming too chilly. This can be used to relieve pain and inflammation. You may also find that elevating the leg helps to minimize swelling.


Chondromalacia Patella, often known as runner’s knee, is caused by overuse or misalignment and causes symptoms such as chronic knee discomfort and grinding sensations. Recognizing these symptoms and seeking medical help for correct diagnosis and treatment are critical. Rest and physical therapy are alternatives for treatment, as are pain management and, in extreme situations, surgical procedures. Preventive actions, such as avoiding repetitive strain, strengthening important muscle groups, and leading a healthy lifestyle, can also dramatically lower the likelihood of getting a runner’s knee. Incorporating targeted exercises, such as quadriceps stretches and knee swings, as well as lifestyle changes, provides a comprehensive approach to controlling and preventing Chondromalacia Patella.

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