Description Of The Injury: Chondromalacia is the softening of the cartilage located under the kneecap, in between the femur and tibial bone. It is the most common cause of chronic knee pain and if left untreated can result in severe degeneration that may lead to osteoarthritis. Flat footed runners, people with deformed patellas and females have a greater predisposition toward chondromalacia. The most common culprit of this injury is prolonged wear and tear of the cartilage.
Injury Symptoms: Classic symptoms of chondromalacia include a dull pain in the front of your knee. The pain may increase in intensity during movements that require you to flex at the knee. The knee may also feel stiff or a grinding sensation may be felt.
Conservative treatment of chondromalacia includes resting the affected knee, particularly if the pain is acute and the knee feels fatigued. A common pain reliever or non steroidal anti inflammatory drug should be used when pain is felt. This should be combined with low impact exercise such as swimming and riding a stationary cycle. This will be combined with general stretches of the thigh, knee and leg.
Professional Medical Treatments:
Chondromalacia that results in severe degeneration of the cartilage may require arthroscopy – a surgical procedure where a small camera is placed into the knee in order to view the damage, and the fragmented cartilage can then consequently be removed. If the cartilage pain is suspected to be caused by a misaligned kneecap, the doctor may realign it to relieve the pressure on the cartilage.
Physical Therapy and Exercises:
Low impact aerobic exercises are recommended for the treatment of chondromalacia. This primarily includes the use of a stationary bicycle, swimming and other water aerobics. The reduced impact of these exercises places less weight and stress on the cartilage. These exercises also strengthen the surrounding tendons and muscles to help support the cartilage.
Exercise Techniques to Prevent Injury:
In oder to prevent this injury from occurring, one should rest in intervals when performing a physical activity that places repetitive high impact on the knee, such as endurance running and certain sports. Stretching of the lower limbs via hamstring, quad stretches, leg raises, wall slides, calf raises, butterfly stretch, and hip bridges should be done twice a day to keep the muscles and tendons flexible.