Chondromalacia patella, or patellofemoral pain syndrome, is when damage is done to the cartilage underneath the patella (kneecap). Damage due to overuse and injury causes the cartilage under the kneecap to soften and deteriorate. The condition has been given the nickname “runner’s knee” as many athletes, especially runners, are diagnosed with this condition.
There are a number of reasons why someone could be faced with chondromalacia. Injury, repetitive stress, weak muscles, and poor alignment due to a congenital condition can all cause improper kneecap movement and lead to chondromalacia. When these factors arise, the kneecap rubs against the bone causing deterioration.
Chondromalacia is very common in women because there is more pressure on the kneecap due to having a wider pelvis and less muscle mass. Age is also a risk factor as young adults and adolescents are at a higher risk due to growth spurts, causing a short-term muscle imbalance affecting the knee.
Running, jumping or exercising that puts extra stress on the knee can increase your risk of developing “runner’s knee.” These activities can put pressure on the knee joints especially if you are increasing your training level.
Chondromalacia usually causes a dull aching pain in the front of your knee and you may feel sensations of cracking or grinding when bending your knee. The pain may worsen from walking up or down stairs, a prolonged period of sitting, or from extended periods of exercising.
Physical therapy is a great option to help treat pain from chondromalacia. A physical therapist will develop a customized treatment plan to relieve the pressure from your kneecap. Strengthening your quadriceps, hamstrings, and the muscles around your hips can help improve your strength and balance, and improving your balance will help to prevent the misalignment of your knee.
Icing and ibuprofen may be recommended to reduce swelling as the knee may be inflamed as a symptom of chondromalacia. Your physical therapist may have you wear a supportive knee brace to help improve the alignment of your kneecap. If you are suffering from “runner’s knee”, physical therapy should be your first option to help alleviate your pain from this condition.
Did you know that you have Direct Access to Physical Therapy? No referral is needed. We offer the best Physical Therapy on Long Island where you can get help from our trusted and expert Physical Therapists. We have several locations on Long Island including Massapequa, Valley Stream, Wantagh, and Lindenhurst. To start your Physical Therapy evaluation, call Park Physical Therapy and The Physical Therapy Alliance at (516) 568-4444.