Knee Pain? – Chondromalacia Patella Causes and Treatment Options 

 August 13, 2012

By  Dr. Tripp Stover, D.C.

Mechanicsville Virginia Chiropractor – Wow what a word huh?  Chon-dro-ma-huh-ha…?  Chondromalacia?  Riiiiiiiiiight…  Yes a mouthful of a word, but the condition is one of the most frequent causes of pain in the knees.  In fact, it is a problem that sent me to the orthopedist.  Chondromalacia patella is a condition that involves the softening or degeneration of the articular cartilage located behind the kneecap. Most frequently this condition is noticed or aggravated when going up stairs.  The pain and inflammation of this condition is usually due to incorrect tracking of the kneecap as it glides across the bottom of the thigh bone. There are a few possible causes for this abnormal tracking: if we examine those with the highest risk of chondromalacia patella, such as young people; women; the knock-kneed and flat-footed; dancers; runners; skiers; and soccer players, we can see why most cases are due to the influence of hormones, misalignment in the hip, knee or foot, congenital defects and excessive wear and tear.

Misalignment can be due to a range of factors. One of them is an imbalance in the muscles of the thigh. The quadriceps muscle usually helps the patella to track smoothly through the femoral groove. However, if this muscle is weakened or there is an imbalance in the thigh muscles, it can cause the patella to track to one side or the other (more commonly toward the outside of the leg), causing the articular cartilage to rub against the femur. Misalignment can also be caused by overly weak hip abductor muscles, which are responsible for moving the leg out from the body, over time causing misalignment not only in the hips, but in the knees and feet as well.  All of the alignment problems or tracking problems are usually related to compensations from subluxations of the spine or pelvic bones which cause abnormal gait patterns or compensations when walking.

Trauma to the patella, either from a direct blow or from chronic pressure being placed on the patellofemoral joint due to excessive use, can cause the cartilage to become roughened or worn away. This wear and tear is often exacerbated by obesity, as the knees are required to carry more weight than they were built for. The patellofemoral joint is also more prone to deterioration due to aging, and is one of the first places many seniors experience pain as they get older.

In order to successfully treat chondromalacia patella, it is important to first reduce the pain and inflammation. An anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can make the pain manageable on a short-term basis though it is not a solution. Changes in diet to reduce inflammation are more of a long-term solution after the cause is found (injury or subluxations).  Glucosamine and chondroitin, as well as omega-3 fatty acid supplements can also be helpful in reducing inflammation. Then, the cause of your condition as diagnosed by your doctor or chiropractor will determine the course of treatment.

It is likely that therapy such as exercises to strengthen and/or stretch certain muscle groups will be involved. You chiropractor will perform adjustments to realign any joints that may be contributing to the misalignment of your leg, increasing flexibility and range of motion, and thus improving the chondromalacia patella. Orthotics are sometimes prescribed for those with flat feet or knock-knees to help keep the legs in proper alignment. Some therapists utilize soft tissue work to remove any adhesions in the muscles that may be preventing the patella from sliding smoothly over the femur.  Check out this video that shows 3 exercises for working on chondromalacia patella.

Using these treatment options can help you get back to your everyday activities, allowing you to be free from knee pain.  Please make an appointment if you need help or have any questions – 804-559-1100.

Stover Chiropractic, P.C.

Real. Simple. Healthcare.



We are located at 9097 Atlee Station Road in Mechanicsville, Virginia, 23111.  This is a Hanover county address, but we are minutes from Glenn Allen, Innsbrook, Sandston, and Varina.  We also serve many people from King William and New Kent Counties.  Our close proximity to I295 means we are very easy to reach from anywhere in the Richmond Metro area.

Dr. Tripp Stover, D.C.

Dr. Stover grew up in Richmond. He has been married to his wife Andrea since 2000 and they make their home in Mechanicsville with their children, Avery and Garnett.

Dr. Tripp Stover, D.C.

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