‘Educate a man, and you educate one person, Educate a female, and you educate the whole family’, I would say the whole community.
We all realize this fact only when these never-tiring members of our family sometimes are not so well. In my practice one of the most common complaints that I see in young females is knee pain. Most of the times it’s not related to any trauma or frank injury, rather it’s gradual in onset and aggravates on squatting, cross-legged sitting and climbing stairs.
If you also have a similar condition you might be suffering from an entity known as Chondromalacia Patellae (Don’t be scared with the medical jargon, its just a way to show our knowledge :)). What that basically means is that you are suffering from a disease wherein the undersurface of your knee-cap(patella) becomes soft and so the movement of knee-cap on thigh bone becomes painful. This movement particularly occurs during the activities mentioned above like stairs climbing or when getting up after prolonged sitting.
The reasons are plenty but then we are more concerned with preventable ones, which can be overuse, repeated trauma, odd position of working, muscle weakness, mal-alignment of knee, tight I T Band etc. These changes make the tracking of knee-cap on thigh bone irregular which leads to degeneration and breakdown of the cartilage on under-surface which becomes soft and painful.
The diagnosis is mostly made when the doctors examines you and conducts a few clinical tests. X-ray or MRI of the concerned knee might be done to see any appreciable changes, if any or to rule out other causes if suggested by history.
So, now we know the disease and we know the reason, let’s discuss the part which all of us are worried about, ‘How to get better?’ Well, the first word of caution is, don’t initiate any self-treatment if you are not sure about the condition (If you yourself are going to diagnose everything, what will be left for us Orthopaedic surgeons to do ;)). Now, when we know that it is indeed Chondromalacia Patellae that is haunting us, we should be all ready to hit it hard. Let’s start one by one, the first thing we should be doing is to get rid of the pain. Initially, the age old concept of RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation) may be given. Also, avoid any posture that increases the intensity of pain, use some analgesic gel or spray for local relief or take prescription drugs from your GP or Orthopaedic Surgeon for relief of pain.
Next part is to address the underlying pathology, this if done by off-loading the joint. The exercises particularly helpful are VMO strengthening (check them in the healthy moves section), making it less vulnerable for further degeneration.
P.S. This article only intends to make you aware of the likely pathology and it can never replace a doctors experienced hands and soothing words.