Chondromalacia Patella (Runner’s Knee)
Chondromalacia Patella, more commonly known as Runners Knee, generally starts out as a vague pain during or after exercising and is the most common cause of pain in the front of the knee. It often occurs in:
(a) Athletes and young adults and is associated with overuse, injury, trauma or abnormal forces on the knee. It is more common in females, especially in young female athletes.
(b) Older individuals as the result of arthritis of the kneecap. People who have previously had a dislocation, fracture or other trauma to the kneecap may be more likely to get Chondromalacia Patella.
What is Chondromalacia Patella or Runners Knee?
Chondromalacia Patella is the softening and degeneration of the cartilage underneath the patella or as it is more commonly known, the kneecap. Under normal circumstances, the cartilage is smooth and shiny so that it glides easily along the articular groove of the femur as the knee bends. Chondromalacia Patella causes the water content of cartilage to increase and as a result, the cartilage loses its normal shock-absorbing ability, causing the kneecap to rub against one side of the knee joint. The undersurface of the kneecap irritates or blisters the cartilage surface and anterior knee pain results.
Activities that require a significant amount of kneeling, squatting and stair climbing are commonly associated with Chondromalacia Patella. In runners, increased mileage or hilly terrain may bring on the symptoms of Chondromalacia patella.
What are the Symptoms of Chondromalacia Patella or Runners Knee?
(a) A deep aching pain in the front of the knee that worsens when walking uphill or climbing stairs.
(b) Knee tenderness and pain in the front of the knee that worsens after sitting for prolonged time or with using stairs or getting out of a chair, and a grating or grinding sensation when the knee is extended.
To prevent Chondromalacia Patella or Runners Knee:
(a) Avoid or modify those activities which aggravate the condition,
(b) Warm-up and stretch out before sports, especially the quadriceps and hamstrings.
(c) Avoid exercising on hard surfaces.
(d) Avoid squatting, kneeling, stairs and hill running as much as possible.
(e) Ice the knee after aggravating activities and occasionally use aspirin or other anti-inflammatory medication.
(f) Wear a patella stabilizing brace during any activities that might aggravate the conditions of Chondromalacia Patella.
(g) The most important thing is to listen to your body and don’t do the things that increase the pain.
Treatment of Chondromalacia Patella or Runners Knee:
(a) Temporarily avoiding activities that worsen pain.
(b) Take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication.
(c) Use knee braces to stabilize the knee during rehabilitation and to continue actively in sports. A patella stabilizing brace applies uniform compression, which helps guide the patella and improve tracking. Knee strap braces provide focused mild pressure on the tendon below the knee cap to help provide pain relief as well as improve knee stability.
(d) Avail of physical therapy to strengthen the quadriceps and hamstring muscles.
(e) In extreme cases, surgery might be recommended.