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What is chondromalacia patella or soft knee patella?

Chondromalacia patellae, soft knee patella or runners’ knee is one of the most common knee injuries that affects most athletes. Of course, diseases such as knee arthritis also cause softening of the patellar cartilage.

Orthopedic specialists usually recommend rest as the first treatment for chondromalacia patella.

What is chondromalacia patella or soft knee patella

What Is The Cause of Knee Patella Tenderness?

If you get a little familiar with the knee anatomy, you can easily find out the cause of the chondromalacia patella. Now, look at your knee from the front. Do you notice the sizeable cup-shaped bone in front of the knee?

This bone is the knee’s patella, which has six joint surfaces. Tendons and ligaments connect it to the femur. Now bend your knee. In this case, the back part of the patella of the knee slides to the femur; Of course, it is better to say on the cartilage of the femur.

If any of the tissues are damaged, they will cause wear and tear in the knee patella and eventually, the softness of the knee patella will appear. Factors such as stiffness or weakness of the knee muscles, excessive activity of the knee, and flat feet increase the risk of soft patellar cartilage.

What is chondromalacia patella or soft knee patella

Symptoms of Knee Patellar Cartilage Tenderness

  • Knee pain that is felt in the area below the patella of the knee.
  • Rubbing or clicking in the knee joint when bending it. This sound is heard more when going up and down stairs, walking, running or standing after sitting for a long time.


If this disease is not treated properly, the risk of osteoarthritis in the knee joint increases. Symptoms can be mild, moderate or severe based on the grading of chondromalacia.

Grading of Chondromalacia Patella

Chondromalacia patella is divided into four grades. Grade one shows the least damage and grade four shows the most damage to the knee joint.

  • Grade 1: The knee cartilage is softened.
  • Grade 2: The knee cartilage is soft and its surface is abnormal. This stage is the beginning of tissue loss.
  • Grade 3: The knee cartilage is thinned and its tissue is depleted.
  • Grade 4: The knee cartilage is seriously damaged; So that the bones wear out.

How Is Chondromalacia Diagnosed?

  • Physical examination

To diagnose the softness of the patella, the orthopedic specialist first examines its appearance.

If the patella is damaged, it will not be aligned with the femur. After that, the specialist evaluates the swelling and pain in the knee joint area.

At this stage, the specialist doctor will notice the type of knee injury, but he will prescribe tests to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other possible causes.

  • Blood test

A blood test is prescribed to detect types of arthritis or inflammation. The Rheumatoid Index (RF) is on the blood test sheet to check for this disease.

  • Imaging tests

These tests can include the following:

  • Plain radiography (X-ray). 
    In this test, the image of the internal organs of the body is recorded in black and white on the photo or radiology film. This test can show knee injuries well.
  • MRI or Magnetic resonance imaging. 
    In this test, a magnetic field and radio waves are used to photograph the internal organs of the body.
    With this imaging technique, three-dimensional images of the internal organs of the body can be prepared. Cartilage wear and tear are well diagnosed with MRI imaging.
  • Knee Arthroscopy.
    This technique is a minimally invasive method for knee surgery that has various uses, for example, it can be used to drain the knee.
    During that, small incisions are made in the knee area, through these incisions, the specialist doctor inserts the arthroscope tool, which has a camera at the end, into the knee joint.
    The camera will transmit clear images of the knee joint to the monitor, and in this way the doctor will notice the condition and injuries of the knee.
    This technique is used in meniscus repair, cruciate ligament reconstruction and other knee problems.
    Orthopedic surgeons use general or local anesthesia for arthroscopic knee surgery.
What is chondromalacia patella or soft knee patella

What Is The Definitive Treatment for Chondromalacia of The Knee?

  • Resting the knee

The first option to treat patella tenderness is to rest it. The goal is to reduce pain by reducing pressure on the patella. The use of a brace (medical knee brace) may also be suggested. You can also use a cold compress to reduce pain and swelling.

Cold reduces the intensity of blood flow in the affected area and therefore is effective in reducing pain.

Do not place the compress on the knee joint continuously, try to do this often. For example, use it four times a day for 15 to 20 minutes each time.

  • Oral and topical anti-inflammatory drugs

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen can help reduce pain and inflammation.
Some medicines are also in the form of creams that you can use on the affected area. These drugs are effective in reducing pain.

  • Physiotherapy for the treatment of chondromalacia of the knee

Physiotherapy specialist for the treatment of chondromalacia of the knee using techniques such as kinesiology (keeping the joints stable using special bands and elastics, Kinesiology), manual therapy, ultrasound therapy, electrotherapy and they use exercise therapy.

Treatment can include one or more methods.

  • Patella soft surgery

If the knee injury is severe, the patella and related problems will be treated using arthroscopic surgery.
Lateral knee ligament release is another procedure that an orthopedic surgeon may use to treat chondromalacia of the knee.

During it, part of the knee ligaments are cut. With this, tension and pressure are reduced and the range of motion of the joint increases. Cartilage grafting, smoothing the back of the patella, or changing the joint of the thigh muscles are other surgical methods and treatment of soft patella.

Ways to Prevent Knee Patella Tenderness

  • Reduce pressure on the kneecap. You can use medical knee braces for this.
  • Appropriate exercises can strengthen the quadriceps muscles; in this way, the pressure is removed from the knee.
  • If you are overweight, definitely think about it. The knee joints are responsible for bearing the weight of the body. Being overweight puts too much pressure on it.
  • Use shoes that cover the arch of the foot well. Shoes with flat soles put pressure on the knee.

Last word

If you have knee pain that does not improve after a few days of rest, it is better to consult an orthopedic specialist. Chondromalacia patella or soft patella is only one of the knee diseases that cause pain.
If left untreated, knee pain can seriously impair your ability to move.


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Physiotherapy in Richmond Hill


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