In a separate article, I discuss basic knee anatomy and injuries. Here I discuss a painful condition known as chondromalacia.
Your kneecap resides over the joint of your knee. The kneecap glides over the joint that connects the thigh bone and femur. Tendons and ligaments hold the kneecap to your shin and thigh muscles. When the components fail to move the proper way, it can cause your kneecap to rub against bone.
Under normal circumstances, when you move your knee, your kneecap (patella) glides along a groove in the femur. On the underside of the patella is a layer of smooth cartilage which prevents bone from rubbing against bone. As a result of a number of types of injury, including overuse, blunt trauma to the knee, repetitive stress injuries, prolonged inactivity, and misalignment of the knee the cartilage on the underside of the patella can deteriorate and soften, causing pain on the front of the kneecap, particularly with squatting, kneeling, extending, and bending of the knees. The pain is generally worse when you descend stairs or walk downhill. The condition is often treated conservatively through protection, rest, application of ice, compression, and elevation of the affected area.
After the initial treatment stages, exercise, stretching, and even surgery may be required. Activity modification is often required for individuals with chronic chondromalacia patella.
Insurance company doctors often claim that chondromalacia patella is a chronic disease that is unrelated to injury. Chondromalacia patella, however, is often caused by trauma, and in particular blunt trauma to the kneecap. Furthermore, even if someone has preexisting chondromalacia, an injury to the knee can make the condition much worse.
For an index of the most common work injuries, click here.