Patella Chondromalacia

Patella Chondromalacia

Body Part


Patella chondromalacia is a common condition causing pain in front of the knee or around the knee cap. It is caused by inflammation and early damage to the joint surface (articular cartilage) behind the knee cap (patella). The symptoms usually come on slowly and may flare up after activity like sports. Often walking up or down stairs makes the pain worse or prolonged sitting with the knee bent.


Patella chondromalacia may develop due to poor alignment (tracking) of the patella. This means the knee cap does not move centrally on the femur (thigh bone) when the knee is bent and straightened. This causes inflammation in the cartilage behind the knee cap due to the abnormal loads. This process is worse in people who are overweight and when the quadriceps (thigh muscles) are weak.

Patella chondromalacia may occasionally develop in the absence of any of the above factors for reasons we don’t yet fully understand.


Managing chondromalacia patella starts with adequate pain relief and a period of rest if the pain has come on following activity. Treating the problem aims at improving the tracking of the patella. This is achieved through physiotherapy and strengthening of the muscles around the knee. Watch the below video showing some useful exercises.

Weight loss is important in reducing the loads on the patella and is therefore vital in managing the pain of patella chondromalacia.

If your symptoms persist despite the above measures, book an appointment with your orthopaedic surgeon.