TREATMENT - Chondromalacia Patella

Most orthopedic surgeons agree that chondromalacia, as with any knee injury treatment, should first be treated conservatively. This means treatment for your knee injury without surgery. However, each person is different and your doctor may feel you need acute knee injury treatment immediately by way of surgery. If you are told that you will require conservative care you can remember the plan easily by remembering the words: Control, Avoid, and Rehabilitate.
Control: Get your pain under control
  • Cryotherapy (ice, cold therapy) is an excellent way to control your pain. Do not apply ice directly to your skin for more than 5 minutes as it can cause burns. A device specially designed to cool your joint (see our PolarCare Cub) can be used for longer periods, as long as you carefully follow the directions for knee injury treatment and discontinue its use if you have pain or a burning sensation.
  • Over-the-counter pain medications can be of use. These include anti-inflammatories such as MotrinTM (ibuprofen) and AleveTM (naproxen), and pain medications, such as TylenolTM (acetaminophen).
  • The use of
  • Occasionally heat can be of benefit after the initial pain has resolved. Heat is sometimes useful to combat stiffness. You can apply a heating pad on a low setting for approximately 10-20 minutes at a time. If you do not have a heating pad, you can use a soft terry cloth hand towel placed under warm (not hot) tap water.
  • Bracing. In addition to providing stability, braces provides pain relief by stimulating some of your nerve fibers which make you feel that your joint is more stable and secure. These are the same nerve fibers you compress when you grab your finger after you hit it with a hammer. Even though your finger was just smashed, you squeeze it with your other hand as hard as you can and it makes it feel better. If support helps, sometimes a simple elastic bandage is all you need; however, some people will feel better with a knee brace. OurDonJoy Comfort Knee Brace will give you the gentle support that you need.
    In addition, with chondromalacia, bracing may help to better centralize your patella in its groove so that it "tracks" more centrally, thereby decreasing your pain. The DonJoy Lateral "J" Brace and the DonJoy Tru-Pull Advanced Patellar Knee Brace are specifically designed to help your patella tracking. Both are far superior to the simple "neoprene sleeves" one can obtain in the supermarket or drugstore. Both are exceptionally useful for ACL knee injury treatment and people with excessive lateral pressure syndrome that causes pain on the outer (lateral) undersurface of the kneecap. The DonJoy Lateral "J" Brace is perhaps one of the most popular patella stabilizing braces in the world. We also really like both the DonJoy Tru-Pull Advanced Patellar Knee Brace, and its more supportive cousin, the DonJoy Tru-Pull Advanced Hinged Patellar Knee Brace
Avoid activities that cause your pain
Just like the old bad joke about the patient that told the doctor: "Doc, everytime I do this, my knee hurts" and the doctor replies: "Well, don't do that!" Although this may seem humorous, there is some truth to the joke. Your body has developed a very complex mechanism to inform you that something is wrong. Humans that ignored these warning signs are no longer living with us today. When our great, great ancestors did not listen to this mechanism, they were killed off by disease or by predators. Thus, pain acts as a warning signal to stop, rest and do something else. Avoid such activities as squatting, kneeling, heavy lifting, climbing, and even running. Listen to your body and make a list of activities or movements that increase your pain and DON'T DO THESE THINGS. Also, make a list of activities and movements that reduce your pain and DO THESE THINGS. For example, many doctors recommend the following for knee injury treatment (be sure to check with yours to make sure he/she agrees).
DON'T DO these if you have chondromalacia:
  • Keep your knee bent for long durations.
  • Kneel on your knees
  • Walk up and down stairs/hills unnecessarily
DO these:
  • Try to sleep with your legs out straight at night instead of curling up into a ball.
Rehabilitate your knee
The key to this step is to remember controlled motions. This means you have complete control of these motions through a structured rehabilitation program. Most treatment/knee injury rehabilitation programs can be done in the convenience and privacy of your own home. The basic philosophy of knee injury treatment is to strengthen the large muscle on the front of your knee called the quadriceps as well as stretching the tendons in the back of your knee called the hamstrings. In specific cases, your doctor may prescribe formalized physical therapy, with a therapist or trainer.
The keys to knee injury treatment include
  • Motivation to actually do the exercises. See our page on motivational strategies to improve your success.
  • Deluxe Knee Therapy Kit
    The correct exercises for your knee injury treatment. See your doctor or physical therapist if you need advice in this regard.
  • Proper equipment. This equipment can either be at your therapists office, at your health club, or items that you purchase for use at home. We have found that people who do their knee injury treatment exercises at home are much more likely to benefit from the program as they more frequently perform the exercises. 

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