Chondromalacia is a repetitive stress injury that is the result of softening and eventual breakdown of the cartilage tissue directly under your kneecap (patella). This causes the underside of the kneecap to come into direct contact with the thighbone. The result of this “bone on bone” contact is the pain of chondromalacia patella, which is the full name of the condition. You may feel the pain on either side of your kneecap or even below the kneecap as well as under it. The info-graph above shows both a side view and frontal views of the knee. The drawing on the left side of the info-graph shows the side view. It also shows the space between the patella and the thigh bone where chondromalacia develops.
You are more at risk of developing chondromalacia if you are overweight or have dislocated or fractured your kneecap (patella). Physically active individuals (e.g. soccer players or cyclists) are more likely to experience this condition.
You will likely experience the pain of chondromalacia when doing the following:
bending your knee;
going down a flight of stairs;
standing up after you have been sitting for a while.
To confirm that you have chondromalacia, your doctor will likely perform a medical examination. If the diagnosis is still unclear, he or she may request blood tests and even a medical imaging test such as an X-Ray or MRI.
Treatment Of Chondromalacia Patella
As with most repetitive stress injuries, the primary treatment for chondromalacia is rest. In addition, you will likely be able to get some relief from the pain by placing an ice pack on it 4-5 times daily for period of around 15-20 minutes each. An orthopedic brace can help take the pressure off your kneecap and speed up the healing process.
Other pain relief treatments include using prescription analgesics or NSAIDs. However, these may have undesirable side effects, so we suggest using them only if the other approaches prove unsuccessful.
How Does Chondromalacia Compare With Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome?
The two conditions are actually very similar. However, the difference between the two is that with patellofemoral pain syndrome, there is no breakdown of cartilage under the kneecap.