Chondromalacia Patella

Chondromalacia patella is a knee condition that many people develop and should seek help from an orthopedic knee doctor in Pottstown, PA. The condition develops with there any kind of damage done to the cartilage located on the back of the patella, which is also known as the kneecap.

When a person has chondromalacia patella, they suffer from pain and swelling in the front of the  knee. It is also common for the person to have a clicking or grinding noise when they move their knee.

Chondromalacia often shows up in younger and active people, especially adolescents and young adults. It also tends to show up more in women than men. Many people who develop the condition are told they are suffering from runner’s knee; however, the issue is actually with the kneecap and how it moves and not with the cartilage.

What is the makeup of kneecaps?

In order to understand the condition, it is important to understand the makeup of a kneecap. The patella is a bone that is shaped like a triangle. It sits inside the quad muscles that are located in the front of a person’s thigh. The patella sits in the patella groove. This is a dip that runs from the front of the femur (thigh bone) and moves up and down as a person moves their leg.

The job of the patella is to protect the knee joint and reduces the force needed to move the knee, which helps the quads muscles work more effectively.

Cartilage lines the patella. This cartilage is the thickest there is anywhere in the body. The cartilage acts as a shock absorber and makes sure the patella guides smoothly over the bones of the knee.

Chondromalacia Patella Causes

When the patella rubs against the edge of the patella groove instead of gliding easily in the middle of the grove, small tears form in the cartilage. These tears cause the cartilage to become inflamed and this can be very painful. Some of the potential reasons why this occurs include:

·       Kneecap Alignment: In some cases, the patella is either resting too high or too low. The person could have been born this way, but the issues don’t show up until they hit their teens. 

·       Muscle Imbalance: Sometimes the condition develops because there is muscle weakness on the inner knee and muscle tightness on the outer knee. This can affect the position of the kneecap and where it sits in the patella groove by pulling it to the side, causing it to rub on the edge of the groove. This creates a lot of friction on the cartilage.

·       Leg Overuse: If a person is involved in a lot of activities that require repetitive force on the kneecaps – like running and jumping – this can cause damage to the cartilage that eventually leads to chondromalacia.

Symptoms of Chondromalacia Patellae

The most common symptoms associated with Chondromalacia patella are:

  • Front knee pain: This pain is often described as being similar to a toothache
  • Grating/grinding sensation: Also called crepitus, this occurs when moving the leg
  • Minor swelling: The swelling usually occurs around the kneecap
  • Pain after long rest: When the person gets up after resting or sitting down for a while; eventually abates
  • Pain when using stairs: The pain is usually worse when the person is going downstairs rather than upstairs
  • Tenderness: This occurs if any pressure is put on the kneecap

Thanks to Premier Osteoarthritis Center of Pennsylvania for their insight into knee arthritis and chondromalacia patella.