The patella, or kneecap, plays a vital role in knee function, serving as a protective shield and facilitating movement. Despite its robust cartilage lining, the patella is susceptible to wear and tear, leading to a condition known as chondromalacia patella. This deterioration of the protective cartilage can occur due to various factors, including repetitive stress and patellar misalignment, resulting in pain and mobility limitations.

At Pacific Crest Orthopedics, Dr. Jeffrey Halbrecht, an esteemed sports medicine specialist, and his expert team specialize in diagnosing and treating patellar issues, offering effective solutions to alleviate pain and restore knee function.

Understanding Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

The patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), characterized by knee pain around the kneecap, includes chondromalacia patella. PFPS typically arises from two primary causes: chondromalacia patella and patellar malalignment.

When the patella moves along the femur groove during knee motion, any irregular shape or alignment can result in discomfort, known as patellar malalignment. Chondromalacia patella, on the other hand, occurs when the protective cartilage beneath the kneecap softens, cracks, and deteriorates, leaving the patella vulnerable to damage.

Common Symptoms of Runner’s Knee

Runner’s knee, or jumper’s knee, is frequently observed in athletes engaged in high-impact activities like running and jumping, placing significant stress on the knees and contributing to PFPS.

Symptoms of chondromalacia patella include:

  • Patellofemoral pain, characterized by discomfort in the front of the knee
  • Audible “crunching” sounds beneath the kneecap
  • Swelling and inflammation in the knee area

Exacerbation of symptoms after activities such as stair climbing, squatting, or prolonged sitting

Initially, individuals with chondromalacia patella may experience mild discomfort beneath the kneecap. However, as the cartilage deteriorates further, the heightened stress on nerve endings triggers pain signals to the brain. The audible “crunching” sound occurs as roughened cartilage fragments irritate the kneecap during movement, leading to increased inflammation and pain.

Finding Relief through Comprehensive Treatment

Chondromalacia patella requires proactive treatment to prevent worsening symptoms and cartilage damage. The condition can progress without intervention, leaving the patella vulnerable to further injury.

As an experienced orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Jeffrey Halbrecht devises personalized treatment plans to effectively address chondromalacia patella and patellar malalignment. Treatment modalities may include:

  • Physical therapy to strengthen the muscles surrounding the patella
  • Ice therapy and anti-inflammatory medication to alleviate swelling and pain
  • Bracing or taping techniques to stabilize the kneecap

In severe cases, arthroscopic surgery may be recommended to address the underlying issues and realign the patella.

To learn more about chondromalacia patella and receive personalized treatment recommendations, schedule a consultation with Pacific Crest Orthopedics. Contact us at 415-230-3667 or book an appointment online.