Many people find that they experience more knee pain while climbing stairs than when they walk or run. This pain could be due to chondromalacia, the condition caused by damage to the cartilage on the back of the knee cap. Also called runner’s knee, chondromalacia is one of the most common causes of chronic pain in the knee. Early treatment at a reliable pain management clinic can help slow down cartilage damage and alleviate pain.
To understand how chondromalacia occurs, you need to understand how the knee joint works. The kneecap or patella moves up and down as the knee bends and slides in its groove. In the healthy knee, this movement is smooth and made possible with the help of the cartilage located on the back of the knee and the groove. Pain occurs when this cartilage gets damaged or worn. It gets worse when the knee is bent and also when the joint is straightened after bending it. This is the reason why the knee hurts more when climbing stairs.
Chondromalacia can affect people of any age and is common among women and young athletes. In addition to the pain around the knee, symptoms include a cracking or grinding sensation after heavy exercise or excessive use. Causes include:
- Knee injury or accident that affects the alignment of the kneecap or damages the cartilage, or both
- Overuse of the knee with running, jumping, or other activities that strain the joint
- Poor alignment of the kneecap due to genetic factors
- Weak leg muscles
- Imbalance of the muscles inside and outside the thigh
Activities that involve deep bending of the knee such as squatting, kneeling, or sitting with the knees bent at an angle greater than 90 degrees can also trigger pain with this condition.
The good news is that the condition can be effectively treated with non-surgical modalities. Diagnosis usually involves X-rays to detect bone damage or signs of misalignment or arthritis, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to assess cartilage damage, and an arthroscopic exam, a minimally invasive procedure to examine the joint.The noninvasive treatments for chondromalaciainclude:
- Physical therapy to strengthen the quadriceps, hamstrings, and other muscles, improve balance and help address knee misalignment.
- Non-weight-bearing exercises such as walking, swimming, riding a stationary bike, and isometric exercises to help to maintain muscle mass.
- Avoiding activities that cause pain such as climbing stairs and steep inclines, excessive running, etc.
- Medications to relieve pain and inflammation
- Weight loss to reduce stress on the knee joint
At a professional pain management center in Brooklyn, NY, patients will be provided with a customized treatment plan based on the severity of the condition.