Chronic Knee Pain (Chondromalacia)

Chronic knee pain at a glance

  • Chronic knee pain is damage or deterioration of the cartilage underneath the kneecap.
  • One of the most common reasons for chronic knee pain is chondromalacia, and is also known as chondromalacia or patellofemoral pain syndrome.
  • Chronic knee pain is commonly caused by repetitive stress on the knee, misalignment of the bones in the knee joint, and/or injury to the knee.
  • The primary symptom of chondromalacia is pain that worsens when climbing stairs or sitting with the knees bent for long periods of time.
  • Treatment for chronic knee pain includes rest, ice, wearing a supportive knee brace, over-the-counter pain relievers, exercise, or (in severe cases) knee replacement surgery. Talk to your pharmacist before purchasing anti-inflammatories as these medications may be contraindicated as they may interact with other medications and medical conditions.

Causes of chronic knee pain

chronic knee pain | Muir Orthopaedic Specialists | CA | Woman with knee painWhile there is currently no known cause of chondromalacia, the condition is commonly associated with overuse of the knee during activities that involve running or jumping. In addition, trauma or injury may lead to chronic knee pain.

In some cases, constant knee pain may result from the misalignment of the knee or foot bones, causing stress to the knee structure.

Symptoms of chronic knee pain

The main symptom of chondromalacia is a dull ache in the front of the knee. This pain may intensify when climbing up or down stairs, kneeling, squatting, or sitting with the knees bent for long periods of time.

In some instances, there may also be a sensation of grinding or grating when the knee is fully extended.

Knee pain treatments

Applying ice and resting the knee can help treat chronic knee pain. Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen may also be used to reduce the pain associated with chondromalacia.

A knee brace can provide greater support and stability to the joint during movement and minimize aggravating the condition.

A physical therapist may recommend stretches and special exercises to build strength in the muscles that support the knee as part of a long-term care regimen. The quadriceps, hamstrings, and hip abductors are generally the focus of this effort.

In addition, it may be helpful to switch to physical activities that put less strain on the knee, such as riding a bicycle or swimming, to help reduce the discomfort of chronic knee pain.

In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove and/or repair the damaged cartilage or to replace the knee joint.

If you experience chronic knee pain, contact us to schedule an appointment with our knee specialists in the San Francisco East Bay Area to learn about the best treatment options to reduce your pain.