Conditions & Treatments - Chondromalacia Patella


Chondromalacia patella (CMP) is a condition at the knee commonly found in younger athletes and in females where the articular cartilage under the patella (kneecap) softens or becomes damaged. Since the patella sits in the groove of the trochlea of the femur (thigh bone) and moves smoothly up and down in this groove with knee motion it can be susceptible to injury. The cartilage under the patella can become injured as a result of direct trauma to the knee, overuse, and malalignment of the patella as a result of muscle imbalance or postural/anatomical abnormalities. The mechanism of injury is thought to be the result of the patella rubbing on the knee joint behind it which stresses the articular cartilage surface of the patella and leads to inflammation and pain to the area.

Symptoms of chondromalacia patella includes dull/achy anterior knee pain, tenderness, edema, grinding sensation (crepitus) with knee extension, and pain with functional tasks such as negotiating down steps and sit to stand transfers after a period of prolonged sitting. CMP is usually treated conservatively with rest, physical therapy and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories. In scenarios where conservative treatment fails, surgical procedures such as chondroplasty to remove damaged cartilage or lateral release to correct patella tracking may be performed.

Chondromalacia Patella Treatment Options for a PT
• Rest
• Postural/Functional Training
• ROM exercises
• Stretching (see videos 27, 28 & 30 for hip/groin/knee)
• Strengthening/Stabilization (see videos 17 & 21 for hip/groin/ knee)
• Manual Therapy
• Modalities (ice, e-stim, ultrasound)
• Patella Taping


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Last revised: August 14, 2010
by Chai Rasavong, MPT, MBA


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