What is Chondromalacia Patella?
Cartilage is strong fibrous tissue, which connects the joints in the body. It ensures that the patella glides smoothly over the knee and acts like a natural shock absorber. Due to injury or damage, the cartilage on the back of the patella will deteriorates and softens resulting in the pain in the front region of knee. This condition is called Chondromalacia Patella or CMP and the leading cause for chronic knee pain. It is very common in young athletes and arthritis-affected people.
What are Chondromalacia Patella Symptoms?
The most common symptoms of Chondromalacia Patella is anterior knee pain. You will feel pain while kneeling, squatting, extending, and bending the knees. The pain will be worsen when you descend downstairs or downhill. Prolonged inactivity will also exacerbate the pain. Crepitus (popping sound), grating or grinding sensation, tenderness and minor swelling will also develop around the patella. Sometimes, it is often considered as movie-goers knee or theater knee.
What are Chondromalacia Patella Causes?
The most common cause of Chondromalacia Patella is improper movement i.e. rubbing of kneecap against femur (thigh bone) rather than to glide over them. This will result in softening and deteriorating cartilage, which lines the joint resulting in pain in front of knee. It is often caused in young adults as well as teenagers. When compared to men, women are more commonly diagnosed with Chondromalacia Patella. The improper tracking of patella is due to
- Muscle imbalance
- Direct blow to knee cap
- Weak hamstring and quadriceps muscles
- Misalignment of knee
- Repetitive stress like jumping and running
- Prolonged inactivity
- Flat feet
- Overuse, injury and trauma to knee
Diagnosis of Chondromalacia Patella:
Medical history and physical examination is necessary to accurately diagnose the pain in the knee. Sometimes, doctor may also prescribe X-rays, MRI and CT scan and blood test is also required for thorough analysis.
Treatment of Chondromalacia Patella:
The treatment for Chondromalacia Patella differs from person to person as always in every condition and disease. Several treatment options can used collectively for effective and successful relief from Chondromalacia Patella. Some of the treatment are:
- PRICE: It is the best 5 step procedure which will minimize the effects and suffering of the Chondromalacia Patella.
- Protect: Avoid all the activities and protect the affected area before the problem further deteriorates.
- Rest: Resting will help the injury and pain to heal. Continuing the sports or activities is stupid and unwise decision, when you are experiencing acute pain.
- Ice: Applying ice pack on the patella will reduce the pain and swelling.
- Compress: Use a stretchable bandage for compression to reduce the swollen area.
- Elevate: Elevating the affected area above heart’s level will stop the blood to flow to the area.
- Exercises: Strengthening exercises for quadriceps, hamstrings, abductors, and abductors will help improve your muscles around the knee and assist in the proper movement of patella in groove.
- Stretching: Muscle imbalance such as tightness and weakness in the muscles will be properly healed with stretching. Remember muscle balance will help prevent chronic knee misalignment.
- Knee Brace Straps: They provide much-needed relief to the joint reducing the pain gradually. They are specially designed to help knee track properly in the groove. It also provides compression as well as support to the patella tendon.
- Medication: NSAID’s like ibrufen or paracetamol will help in reducing the swelling and ache from the patella.
- Taping: Before you start taping, ensure you properly learn the art from your physiotherapist. Taping is excellent method to release the pressure off the patella during sports.
- Activity Modification: Daily activities are the main contributing reasons behind chronic pain in patella. So it’s your duty to carefully analyze the activities which are triggering pain in patella and it is wise to either avoid it or modify it. For example, if you are experiencing pain while running, then try to wear branded shoes with extra cushioning and exclusively manufactured for runners. Don’t run on hard concrete surfaces. Most of the athletes in order to be in shape and to stay fit, just switch to swimming and cycling.
- Orthotics: Orthotics or shoe insoles is a great aid in providing respite from knee pain especially for flat feet. They effectively change the alignment of the foot by appropriate distribution and reduction of forces through the foot and ankle.
- Knee Pads: They are also called as gel pads. They are the best way to avoid discomfort or ache in knees for people who often work kneeling down like Carpet fitters, concrete finishers and roofers.
- Surgery: Surgery is not a common practice usually associated with chondromalacia patella but it can be last resort, if all other treatment options failed to provide relief to the patient. Normally, arthroscopy or keyhole surgery is performed in this condition wherein doctors insert tiny camera into the knee and perform the operation with fine surgical instruments. The cartilage will be smoothen or removed and in some cases, the tight ligaments located on the side of the patella are slightly cut to move and function properly or to align better in the groove.
Recovery Period for Chondromalacia Patella:
Many patients are able to successfully resolve the chondromalacia patella pain with the help of effective exercise program and knee brace strap. Usually, it will take anywhere between three to six months for complete cure from the pain and returning to daily activities . However, the result will be good and relieving.
One of the best and effective methods of completely minimizing any chances or recurring the condition of chondromalacia patella, is to warm up prior to any exercise. Avoid climbing stairs and uphill. Even reducing squatting, bending, and kneeling will help reuce the pain. Even avoid Prolonged inactivity because it will also aggravate the pain. If you are overweight, try reducing your weight.
Conclusion – Chondromalacia Patella:
The overall outlook of the treatment is good. Many people get relieve from chondromalacia patella pain with simple treatments such as physiotherapy and use of knee brace.