Chondromalacia Patellae, the most common cause of chronic knee pain, occurs when the cartilage on the underside of the patella (kneecap) deteriorates and softens. The degeneration of cartilage occurs due to improper alignment of the knee cap, resulting in chronic pain at the front and center of the knee cap. Also called patellofemoral syndrome/runners knee, the condition is most common among young, athletic individuals, but may also occur in older adults who suffer from knee arthritis. Reputable pain management centers in Brooklyn, NYC offer effective non-surgical modalities to treat the pain and swelling associated with the condition.
The typical symptoms of chondromalacia patellae include a vague discomfort or pain in the inner knee region. Patients may feel a sensation of tightness or fullness in the knee area when bending or extending their knees. The pain may get aggravated during activities that apply extreme pressure to the knees (such as standing for a long period and involving in activities like running, jumping, climbing, or descending stairs) or by prolonged sitting with the knees in a moderately bent position.
What Are the Top Causes?
Chondromalacia patellae occur when the knee cap rubs against the lower part of the thighbones (femur) rather than gliding over them. This causes small tears in the cartilage which get inflamed and cause pain. It can affect people of any age and is more common among young adults and teenagers, particularly women. Top causes of patellofemoral syndrome include –
- Weak leg muscles
- Overuse of the knee (such as in certain sports)
- Poor alignment of the kneecap due to genetic factors
- Muscle imbalance inside and outside the thigh
- Flat feet
- Repeated stress to your knee joints, such as from running, skiing, or jumping
- A direct blow or trauma that affects the alignment of the kneecap or damages the cartilage, or both
Non-surgical Treatment Interventions for Patellofemoral Syndrome
A team of healthcare professionals including pain management physicians, orthopedists, physical therapists, and rehabilitation experts work together to diagnose patellofemoral syndrome. Diagnosis of this condition may begin with a detailed evaluation of the areas of swelling or tenderness in your knees. Physicians may also look at how your kneecap aligns with your thigh bones. They may apply resistive pressure to the knee cap to determine the extent of tenderness and swelling. Several diagnostic imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI scans and ultrasound exams will be performed to evaluate the soft tissues in the patella area and to establish the actual cause of the pain. Multispecialty healthcare centers in Brooklyn offer the following proven nonsurgical modalities for patellofemoral pain management –
- Physical therapy (PT) – Physical therapy focuses on building muscle strength and improving balance, which will help prevent knee misalignment. PT includes therapeutic exercise programs such as stretching, strengthening, and isometric and aerobic exercises.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication – Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen [Advil/Motrin] or naproxen [Aleve]) reduce chronic inflammation and swelling associated with the condition.
- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) – TENS uses low voltage electrical currents to relieve pain.
- Knee injections – Injection of corticosteroids directly into the knee joint is an effective option to address knee pain and inflammation quickly.
- Chiropractic care – Chiropractic treatment can reduce pain and inflammation and strengthen the muscles around the joints.
If nonsurgical treatment does not provide the expected results or if the condition affects your mobility, arthroscopic surgery may be recommended to relieve the pressure on the ligaments and allow for more movement.
Tips to Prevent Chondromalacia Patellae
The risk of developing runner’s knee can be effectively reduced or prevented by following these tips –
- Avoid aggravating activities that cause pain such as climbing stairs and steep inclines, excessive running/jumping.
- Reduce extra body weight to take off the excessive pressure off the knees and other joints.
- Wear shoe inserts to correct flat feet.
- Avoid repeated stress to your kneecaps. Wear knee pads if you have to spend more time on your knees.
- Create or maintain muscle balance or mass by engaging in non-weight-bearing exercises such as swimming, walking, riding a stationary bike, and isometric exercises.