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Chondromalacia patella

  • Alternative Names

    Patellofemoral syndrome; Knee pain - chondromalacia


    Temporarily resting the knee and taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin may help relieve pain. Physical therapy, especially quadriceps strengthening and hamstring stretching, may be helpful.

    Stretch the muscles on the back (hamstrings) and front (quadriceps) of your upper leg.

    Your health care provider can teach you ways to make these muscles tighter. Stronger muscles will help hold your kneecap in the correct position.

    If you need to lose weight, find out how.

    Changing the way you exercise may help:

    • Avoid running straight down hills; walk down instead.
    • Bicycle or swim, instead of running.
    • Reduce the amount of exercise you do.
    • Run on a smooth, soft surface such as a track, rather than on cement.

    Other techniques are:

    • Special shoe inserts and support devices (orthotics) may help people with flat feet.
    • Taping to realign the kneecap may help prevent symptoms.

    Make sure your running shoes:

    • Are made well
    • Fit well
    • Have good cushion

    If the pain does not improve and there are signs of arthritis developing around the kneecap, surgery may be an option. Surgery may be done using:

    • Arthroscopy (using a camera, which allows a smaller cut)
    • An open approach, with a surgical cut

    During the surgery, kneecap cartilage that has been damaged may be removed. Changes may be made to the tendons to help the kneecap move more evenly.

    Support Groups

    Expectations (prognosis)

    Chondromalacia patella usually improves with therapy and use of NSAIDs. For the few people who need it, surgery is successful most of the time.


    The main complication is failure of treatment to relieve pain.

    When surgery is necessary, surgical complications may include:

    • Failure to relieve pain
    • Infection
    • Worsening pain

    Calling your health care provider

    Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you have symptoms of this disorder.