Brief outline of chondromalacia patellae (runner’s knee)
The underside of the patella is protected by cartilage. Chondromalacia patellae occurs when this cartilage becomes damaged and softens. Softening and degeneration of the cartilage on the underside of the kneecap in athletes is usually a result of overuse, trauma, or abnormal forces on the knee. In older adults it can be a result of degenerative arthritis. Pain under the kneecap and a grating sensation when the knee is extended are possible signs of this condition.
Cause of chondromalacia patellae (runner’s knee)
Repetitive micro-trauma to the cartilage through overuse conditions. Misalignment of the kneecap. Previous fracture or dislocation of the kneecap.
Signs and symptoms of chondromalacia patellae (runner’s knee)
Pain that worsens after sitting for prolonged periods or when using stairs or rising from a seated position. Tenderness over the kneecap. Grating or grinding sensation when the knee is extended.
Complications if left chondromalacia patellae (runner’s knee) unattended
Cartilage that degenerates and becomes rough can cause scarring in the bone surface that it rubs against. This in turn causes more inflammation. Cartilage can also be torn when it is rough, leading to loose bodies in the joint.
Treatment for chondromalacia patellae (runner’s knee)
Rest and ice. Anti-inflammatory medications. Viscosupplementation injection.
Rehabilitation and prevention for chondromalacia patellae (runner’s knee)
Limiting activity until the pain subsides and a gradual reintroduction to the activity is paramount. Strengthening and stretching the quadriceps is important to relieve pressure on the patella. Activities that increase the pain, such as deep knee bending, should be avoided until completely pain free. Avoid abnormal stress on the knee and keep the hamstrings and quadriceps strong and flexible to prevent this condition.
Long-term prognosis and surgery for chondromalacia patellae (runner’s knee)
Chondromalacia patellae commonly responds well to viscosupplementation injection, therapy and anti-inflammatory medications. In rare cases surgery may be required to correct a misalignment in the kneecap.