Chondromalacia Patella (Patellofemoral Syndrome)
Chondromalacia patella facts
• Chondromalacia patella is one of the most common cause of chronic knee pain.
• Chondromalacia patella is also known as patellofemoral syndrome.
• The pain associated with chondromalacia patella is aggravated by activity or prolonged sitting with bent knees.
• Abnormal “tracking” allows the kneecap (patella) to grind over the lower end of the thighbone (femur), causing chronic inflammation and pain.
• Treatment involves improving the alignment of the patella during contraction of the thigh muscle.
What is chondromalacia patella?
Chondromalacia patella is abnormal softening of the articular surface of the patella (kneecap). It is a cause of pain in the front of the knee (anterior knee pain).
What causes chondromalacia patella?
The basic disorder is probably a mechanical overload of the patello-femoral joint (where the kneecap and thigh bone move around eachother). It is unllikely to be caused by one particular injury, but more likely a repetitive overload due to either 1) abnormal patellar “tracking” of the patella toward the lateral (outer) side of the femur. This slightly off-kilter pathway allows the undersurface of the patella to grate along the femur, causing chronic inflammation and pain. Certain individuals are predisposed to develop chondromalacia patella: females, knock-kneed or flat-footed runners, or those with an unusually shaped patella undersurface; 2) malcongruence of the patello-femoral surfaces because of an abnormal shape of the patella or tracking groove; 3) An imbalance of muscular strength of the lower extremity.
What are the symptoms and signs of chondromalacia patella?
The symptoms of chondromalacia patella are generally a vague discomfort of the inner front of the knee, aggravated by activity (running, jumping, climbing or descending stairs) or by prolonged sitting with knees in a moderately bent position. Some patients may also have a vague sense of “tightness” or “fullness” in the knee area. Occasionally, if chronic symptoms are ignored, the associated loss of quadriceps (thigh) muscle strength may cause the leg to “give out.” Besides an obvious reduction in quadriceps muscle mass, mild swelling of the knee area may occur.
How is chondromalacia patella diagnosed?
Chondromalacia patella is suspected in a person with anterior knee pain, especially in teenage females or young adults. With manual compression of the kneecap while the quadriceps muscle is tightened, there can be pain. This is referred to as the positive “shrug” sign. Generally, there is no associated swelling (knee joint effusion).
X-rays or MRIs may be done to confirm the inflammation on the posterior part of the patella.
If you are suffering with knee pain and you would like to discuss it further with us, please give us a call on 07825 418481.