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Chondromalacia patella is a condition which affects the knee.  The articular cartilage on the back of the knee cap softens and can result in wear and tear.

The condition has similar causative factors to patellofemoral syndrome.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Pain at the front of the knee (behind the knee cap) with activity

  • Swelling

  • Crepitus (grating or grinding)

  • Aggravated by climbing stairs, running

What Causes It?

  • Irritation or rubbing of under the surface of the patella on femur

  • Acute or repetitive trauma

  • Genetic tendency

  • Rapid growth

  • High impact sports

  • Tight ITB

  • Abnormal lower limb alignment (knock knees, over pronation)

  • Maltracking of the patella

  • Poor lumbopelvic stability

How to Self Manage

  • R.I.C.E. protocol

  • Rest from or modify aggravating activities

  • Try walking and swimming as alternate forms of exercise

  • Speak to your GP or pharmacist RE suitable medication for pain relief

  • Seek x-ray or scan to confirm diagnosis


  • Rest may be enough to settle pain and allow tissues time to repair

  • An X-ray and MRI will determine the extent of damage

  • An arthroscope may be required to smooth or repair the cartilage lining the under-surface of the patella.

  • If not managed, there is a likelihood the OCD will progress to osteoarthritis

How Physio Helps

  • Assess your knee for chondromalacia patella

  • Refer for investigation if necessary

  • Review training and sport for activity modification

  • Release tight structures (ITB, lateral retinaculum)

  • Assess for lower limb muscular imbalance

  • Patella mobilisation

  • Patella strapping

  • Prescription of exercises to correct imbalances in flexibility and strength

  • Pilates exercises to improve lumbopelvic stability

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