Munson Health
Chondromalacia Patella

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by Alan R


Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options include:

Acute Care

Your knee will need time to heal. Avoid activities that place extra stress on your knee:
  • Do not do activities that cause pain. This includes running, jumping, and weight lifting using the leg muscles.
  • If normal walking hurts, shorten your stride.
  • Do not play sports until your doctor has said it is safe to do so.
Apply an ice or a cold pack to the area for 15-20 minutes, four times a day, for several days after the injury. Do not apply the ice directly to your skin. Wrap the ice or cold pack in a towel.
Pain Relief Medications
To manage pain, your doctor may advise:
  • Over-the-counter medication, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
  • Topical pain medication—creams or patches that are applied to the skin to help with soft tissue pain
  • Prescription pain relievers
Compression can help prevent more swelling. Your doctor may advise an elastic compression bandage around your knee. Be careful not to wrap the bandage too tight.
After treatment, you may need an elastic knee sleeve with the kneecap cut out to help support the knee joint.
Elevation can also help keep swelling down. Keep your knee higher than your heart as much as possible.
Physical Therapy
You may be referred to a physical therapist. You will be taught exercises to help reduce discomfort and to strengthen the muscles in your leg.


In most cases, surgery is not needed. But for some patients who have continued pain, surgery may performed. Surgical procedures include the following:
  • Moving the quadriceps muscle insertion on the lower leg to improve alignment
  • Releasing the lateral thigh muscles and tightening the medial muscles
  • Smoothing over the undersurface of the patella
  • Implanting cartilage taken from one’s own knee


American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine



Canadian Orthopaedic Association

Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation



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Patellofemoral pain syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated July 10, 2013. Accessed February 28, 2014.

Patellofemoral pain syndrome (runner's knee). John Hopkins Medicine website. Available at:,P07841/. Accessed February 28, 2014.

Runner's knee (patellofemoral pain). American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: Updated August 2007. Accessed February 28, 2014.

Pihlajamäki HK, Kuikka PI, Leppänen VV, Kiuru MJ, Mattila VM. Reliability of clinical findings and magnetic resonance imaging for the diagnosis of chondromalacia patellae. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2010 Apr;92(4):927-934.

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