What Is Chondromalacia?

Also known as runner’s knee, chondromalacia patellae is a condition where cartilage under the kneecap is damaged. The cartilage beneath the kneecap naturally absorbs shock from running or walking and is susceptible to damage from overuse or through another injury. Because of its association with running or jogging, the ages most commonly affected are between 14 and 40. Osteoarthritis can form with damage to the articular cartilage, which may become worn down with repeated episodes of chondromalacia.

Causes & Symptoms

 

The causes of chondromalacia include the following:

  • trauma, such as a fracture or dislocation

  • muscle imbalance around the knee

  • overuse such as bending or twisting

  • poorly aligned bones near the knee

  • meniscus injury

  • rheumatoid or osteoarthritis

  • knee joint infection

  • bleeding inside the knee joint

Sports or repetitive motion is most often to blame for chondromalacia, but too much weight on the knee such as with an overweight person, can also cause it.

Symptoms of Chondromalacia

The main symptom of chondromalacia is a pain behind the kneecap that is often described as a dull ache. The pain tends to get worse when the person climbs up or down stairs, or gets up after sitting in one position for a length of time. The condition may also cause the person’s knee to catch or buckle. The knee may swell and appear puffy. Another possible symptom is hearing a creaking or grinding sound upon knee movement. However, this type of sound can also be present without chondromalacia, so alone it’s not a good indication.

Treatments

One of the treatments for chondromalacia is PRP injections. This soaks damaged cells in a concentrate made of the patient’s own blood. First, the blood is extracted, then spun through a centrifuge to extract platelets. Then the concentrated mixture is injected into the troubled area of the patient’s body. The treatment is widely used in sports and can help with minor injuries or put off surgery for tougher injuries. Platelets play a significant role in repairing and regenerating tissue, so a PRP injection takes advantage of the body’s own healing process.

How Chondromalacia is Treated with Stem Cell Therapy (Regenerative Therapies)?

Another treatment for chondromalacia is stem cell therapy. Like platelet rich plasma injections, this is a cutting-edge treatment that focuses on regenerating tissue. Stem cell therapy stimulates growth of the knee cartilage and also strengthens nearby tendons and ligaments. Stronger ligaments and tendons in turn keep joints in correct alignment and thus protect the knee cartilage from friction damage. Chondromalacia is one of those conditions that has shown very favorable results with this therapy or when combined with platelet rich plasma injections.

Both treatments are especially appealing to patients who want to avoid surgery and there are many example cases that show patients getting improved function and faster healing after using either therapy.