Medical Library: Knee – Chondromalacia

Often called “Runner’s Knee,” Chondromalacia patella is a common cause of knee pain in young athletes.

Chondromalacia is a condition caused by an irritation of the surface under the kneecap. The undersurface of the kneecap, also known as the patella, is covered with a layer of smooth cartilage, which glides smoothly across the knee during bending of the joint. However, if the kneecap rubs repeatedly against one side of the knee joint, and the cartilage surface become irritated, knee pain will result.

Cartilage damage is common to both chondromalacia and arthritis, although the pattern of damage is clearly different. Cartilage damage from chondromalacia is also believed to be repairable, unlike arthritis.