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Prevention & Treatment

Monday, Aug. 27, 2007; 7:44 PM

Copyright Harvard Health Publications 2007


Table of Contents

You can reduce your risk of chondromalacia by preventing knee injuries and overuse of your knee joints. To do this:

  • Warm up and stretch before you participate in athletic activities.

  • Do exercises to strengthen the leg muscles around your knee, especially the muscles in your thigh called the quadriceps.

  • Increase the intensity of your training program gradually. Never push yourself too hard, too fast.

  • Wear comfortable, supportive shoes that fit your feet and your sport. Problems with foot alignment can increase your risk of knee injuries. Ask your doctor about shoe inserts that can correct alignment problems.

  • If you ski or if you play football or soccer, ask your doctor or trainer about specific equipment that can help to reduce your risk of knee injuries.

  • If you often kneel on hard surfaces when you work, wear protective knee pads.


Your doctor probably will recommend nonsurgical treatments first. These include:

  • Applying ice after exercise and as needed for pain or swelling

  • Taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin and others), to relieve your knee pain and ease any swelling

  • Taking other pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), which also may help relieve pain

  • Starting an exercise program to strengthen the muscles around your knee

  • Avoiding high-impact exercises

  • Avoiding all kneeling and squatting

  • Using knee tape, a brace or a special patellar-tracking sleeve to keep your kneecap aligned properly

If nonsurgical treatments fail, or if you have severe symptoms, your doctor may do arthroscopy to check the cartilage inside your knee. If the cartilage is softened or shredded, damaged layers can be removed during the surgery, leaving healthy cartilage in place. If necessary, your doctor also can correct the alignment of your kneecap or other parts of your knee to help to reduce wear and tear on your knee cartilage.

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