Chondromalacia patella, also known as the runner’s knee, is a condition that causes the cartilage on the underside of the kneecap (which is the patella) to soften and deteriorate. Because of the damaged cartilage, the kneecap rubs against the femur (the thigh bone) and causes knee pain. Although it is common in young athletes, this condition can also affect the elderly with knee arthritis. Resting the knee is the most typical treatment for chondromalacia patella symptoms.
What causes this condition?
Chondromalacia is a condition in which joint cartilage softens and degrades. As the joint moves, the cartilage loses its capacity to shield the ends of the bones. Bone ends might brush against one another and hurt. Chondromalacia can affect any joint, but it most frequently develops on the underside of the kneecap; when it does, it is referred to as the chondromalacia patella.
Chondromalacia in the knee may be caused by:
– Kneecap fracture or dislocation
– Tight or weak knee muscles
– Improperly aligned muscles and bones near the knee joint
– Direct impact or injury to the kneecap
– Overuse of the knee joint, particularly during sports
– Osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis
Who is at risk for chondromalacia patella?
Several factors could make you more likely to develop chondromalacia patella, including:
- Weight. Being overweight increases your risk of developing a chondromalacia patella.
- Age. Young people are more vulnerable than any other age group to this condition.
- Gender. Since women commonly have less muscle mass than men, they are more susceptible to this condition.
- Flat foot. Flat feet can cause more stress on the knee joint while walking or running.
- A prior injury. A previous kneecap injury, such as a dislocation, can make you more likely to get a runner’s knee.
- Arthritis. Inflammation of the joint and surrounding tissue is a symptom of arthritis, which can cause a runner’s knee.
- Strenuous activities. Knee cartilage deterioration is prevalent in people who frequently perform activities that put continuous stress on their knees, such as runners, soccer players, cyclists, and other athletes.
What are the symptoms of chondromalacia patella?
You may have this condition if you are experiencing knee discomfort and pain that worsens while using the stairs or sitting, standing, and exercising for a long time. When you move your knee, chondromalacia may make a creaking or grinding noise.
How is this condition diagnosed?
During the consultation, our orthopedic specialist will examine your knee to check for discomfort, soreness, or swelling. They may also request some tests to confirm the diagnosis, such as a knee X-ray to detect arthritis, misalignment, and bone deterioration or an MRI scan to detect cartilage damage. Additionally, the doctor may perform a knee arthroscopy, which involves inserting a small, flexible camera through a small incision into your knee to view the joint interior.
How is this condition treated?
Treatment options for chondromalacia patella include:
- Stem Cell Therapy. Stem cell therapy offers the patient an easier, faster, and more convenient alternative to surgery. Unlike other treatments, the benefits of stem cell therapy are not limited to managing knee problems but also regenerating and healing the knee cartilage so that the symptoms are eliminated rather than just managed.
- Medications. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) treat knee pain and reduce swelling, such as ibuprofen and aspirin.
- Topical pain relievers. These include lotions or patches that treat soft tissue pain.
- Support devices, including knee tape, a brace, and the patellar-tracking sleeve can keep your kneecap in the appropriate alignment.
- Physical therapy. Exercises that focus on strengthening the knee’s surrounding muscles can enhance muscle strength and balance.
Surgery may be advised if several months of conservative treatment are unsuccessful. Damaged layers can be removed during surgery if the cartilage has been weakened or torn, leaving healthy cartilage in its place. To help prevent damage to your knee cartilage, our orthopedic surgeon may, if required, realign your kneecap or other components of your knee.
What to expect after treatment?
Most people with chondromalacia patella recover fully after treatment. Depending on the circumstances, recovery can occur within a month or take years. Studies reveal that most patients are happy with the outcomes when surgery is necessary after non-surgical treatment fails. Surgery to remove the damaged cartilage usually results in less discomfort and improved knee function.
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