Patella Chondromalacia is a softening of the articular cartilage of the
patella, and is generally a result of trauma, or degenerative changes
within the knee. This condition is commonly associated with patella
femoral compression syndrome, and other knee injuries.
what causes chondromalacia, signs and symptoms, and treatment options
can help you recover, and return to play faster.
What is Patella
Chrondromalacia is the term used to describe a degeneration of
articular cartilage. Remember, articular cartilage is a hard, very
slick type of cartilage that covers the ends of bones where they
articulate, or touch, other bones. Usually found within the joints of
the body, articular cartilage helps to reduce friction during movement.
Patella chondromalacia refers to the articular cartilage on the
undersurface of the patella.
Chondromalacia can be classified in 4 grades or
stages. Grade I involves the softening of the articular cartilage. As
the cartilage softens, it often takes on a rough appearance, much like
very fine sandpaper. As the cartilage is normally very smooth and
slick, this can lower the effectiveness of the cartilage, and increase
the friction between the two bones.
Grade II chondromalacia involves a roughening of the cartilage. It
begins to take on a very rough surface, and very small amounts of the
cartilage are eroding away. Popping within the joint becomes common,
and there may be mild pain associated with activities.
Grade III chondromalacia occurs when small pieces
of the articular cartilage begin to break away. There may be holes in
the articular cartilage, and the overall thickness is no longer
uniform. This is usually accompanied by significant amounts of pain,
popping, and possibly swelling.
Grade IV chondromalacia involves fissures or cracks
in the cartilage that reveal the underlying bone. There may be large
holes within the cartilage, and the exposure of the subchondral bone
leads to severe pain and discomfort. There may also be loose pieces of
articular cartilage floating within the joint.
This condition often begins slowly, as an ache or occasional sharp pain
within the knee. The pain usually originates from the underside of the
kneecap. Popping may occur, although it may not be painful. Contraction
of the quadriceps muscles pull the patella into the femoral groove, and
this compression causes a grinding sensation at the patella. There may
be small amounts of swelling around the kneecap, and it may be tender
to the touch. As the injury gets worse, pain will increase, and may
hinder your athletic activities. Running and jumping will usually be
the primary activities that increase pain. Deep sqautting may also be
What Causes Patella Chondromalacia?
Patella chondromalacia does not occur on its own, and is not as common
with traumatic knee injuries. The most common cause is patella
With this injury, the normal mechanics of the patella are disrupted by
various factors, and a degeneration of the cartilage occurs because it
is unable to recieve the normal amounts of nutrients.
Traumaic knee injuries can also be a cause, however
this is not as common as normal wear and tear on the knee. During a
traumatic knee injury, there may be significant forces compressing the
patella into the femoral groove, which leads to damage to the
cartilage. As time passes, this damaged area becomes soft, and starts
to erode away, leading to patella chondromalacia.
The most effective treatment is to determine
the biomechanical factors that are causing the problem, and to address
them. Patella femoral syndrome can be caused by many different factors,
including flexibility, anatomical structure, muscular strength and
balance, and biomechanics at the foot and ankle. By addressing these
factors, you can restore the normal mechanics of the patella, and stop
further damage to the cartilage.
is also helpful in
treating the pain and discomfort associated with this injury.
only way to directly treat this injury is
through surgical intervention. Arthroscopic surgery to "clean up" the
articular cartilage may be necessary in some cases. The procedure
involves a smoothing out of the cartilage and removal of any loose
debris. Because patella chondromalacia is a result of other injuries,
surgery just for this condition is not very common.
Patella chondromalacia is not a specific sports injury, but rather a
result of other injuries, especially patella femoral syndrome. To treat
this condition, the underlying causes must be identified and addressed.
Resolution of biomechanical, flexibility, and strength issues is the
most effective non-surgical treatment. As always, rest, ice,
compression, and elevation are very beneficial in treating this
Didn't find what you were looking for? Search SII for more information...
Running Pain Solutions
The key to getting rid of minor aches before they become major pains is a simple, total body prevention program.
Written for Runners by a runner, you'll learn a holistic approach to improving mobility, restoring normal movement and muscle activation patterns, and restoring the body and mind connection.
This Kindle Book contains a step by step program to keep you running pain free. Included are detailed instructions and illustrations for exercises to improve mobility, balance,
neuromuscular control, strength and endurance. Only $7.49!
Get Your Copy Today!