Abnormal softening or wearing away of the cartilage located on the underside of the kneecap (patella). This cartilage covers three bones in the knee: the femur, tibia and the patella. This condition is therefore the most common cause of chronic knee pain, since the wearing away of this cartilage restricts and hinders the bones to move freely in the joint.
Chondromalacia Patella typically results from degeneration of cartilage due to poor alignment of the kneecap as it slides over the lower end of the thigh bone. Conditions such as muscle imbalance, weak quadriceps and direct trauma to the knee can also cause this injury to occur.
The most common symptom is knee pain that increases when pressure is applied to the injured area. Stiffness and a “popping” or “cracking” noise can also occur.
In most cases, surgery is not needed. Applying ice to the area and wearing a knee brace can be sufficient to relieve pain and immobilize the area in order for it to heal. Exercise is also recommended to help strengthen the quadriceps, which have a great affect on the knee.
If surgery is needed, techniques such as improving alignment of the quadriceps and muscles and smoothing the surface of the patella can be done.