The kneecap (patella) protects the front of the knee joint. Chondromalacia, also known as “runner’s knee,” is the softening or deterioration of cartilage on the undersurface of the patella. Patellofemoral pain syndrome and chondromalacia pain syndrome are the two most common conditions that affect the patella.
Chondromalacia is common among growing, athletic teenagers, but may also occur in older adults who have arthritis of the knee. A sharp blow can also damage the undersurface of the kneecap.
Individuals with chondromalacia often experience these symptoms:
- Kneecap pain when kneeling, squatting, running and going up and down stairs
- A feeling that the knee is buckling or giving way
- A sensation of catching, crackling, grinding or sandpaper underneath the kneecap
- Swelling of the knee joint
- Pain when sitting for an extended period or when getting up from a sitting position
- Swelling around the kneecap
One of Lancaster Orthopedic Group knee specialists will examine the lower leg, ankle and foot to diagnose the problem, and may recommend a combination of X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs to determine the extent of the condition.
Treatment for chondromalacia includes rest, ice, compression, anti-inflammatory medication to reduce the inflammation, and avoiding activities that aggravate the condition. A knee support may be recommended to stabilize the patella. In cases where the kneecap is very swollen, your physician may need to remove fluid from within the kneecap.