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Author Topic: Will my chondromalacia ever go away?  (Read 4979 times)

Offline dancinonwater

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Will my chondromalacia ever go away?
« on: February 05, 2011, 11:09:35 PM »
I am only 13 years old and have had knee pain for a few years. My patellae don't track right and are tilted, so I have Chondromalacia, tendonitis, and obviously general patella femoral pain. My chondromalacia has been so bad on my right knee I can barely walk! I've never had a scope or anything, so I don't know the severity of it, all I know is it hurts like hell. And I also have a high pain threshold and my physical therapist seemed very concerned even before I told her how much it hurt. So anyway, I am definately going to get a good knee brace (probably the Breg PTO, unless someone recommends otherwise) but I was wondering if my Chondromalacia will ever go away. I know that cartilage can't regrow, but will the pain go away without surgery?

Thanks so much in advance! I can barely get up stairs or from class to class, much less participate in dance class! It sucks to be an active teenager in so much pain!
« Last Edit: February 05, 2011, 11:12:49 PM by dancinonwater »
13 years old, dancer, musical theatrist

08-09  PT for patellar maltracking and frequent subluxations in the LK
08-current  knee pain in LK & RK
'11  DX of maltracking and tilt in both knees, minor patellar tendonitis
'11  Scope w/ synovectomy and lateral meniscus trim

Offline aaa

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Re: Will my chondromalacia ever go away?
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2011, 03:46:01 PM »
only 13 ... sorry to hear you're experiencing such pain  :(

when you say chondromalacia, are you referring to pain sensation at the front of the knee, or did diagnostic imaging reveal something that appeared abnormal?

i've heard of others around your age having such pains when going through growth spurts, which led to some temporary abnormal alignment ... i hope a Doctor / OS would be able to give you clear answer. 

has your PT advised to modify activity or treatments such as RICE? 

i know modifying activity is a drag, especially at 13 ... i played tackle football around your age and dislocated my shoulder, it popped back in and didn't tell my coaches ... i could'nt lift it for two weeks and would just keep it my elbow sort of pressed up against my ribs.  in hindsight, this was NOT a good idea :)

hope this problem subsides for you, try not to over do it ... good luck




Offline dancinonwater

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Re: Will my chondromalacia ever go away?
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2011, 04:32:22 PM »
I have not had imaging done, but my physical therapist was working on and testing my knee and told ne that I have cartilage damage, aka Chondromalacia. And I havent hit a huge growth spurt. My knees have pretty much always been bad, the I think its especially bad because of my dancing. Thanks for the suport! But what is the deal with the cartilage? Will it ever stop hurting without surgery?
13 years old, dancer, musical theatrist

08-09  PT for patellar maltracking and frequent subluxations in the LK
08-current  knee pain in LK & RK
'11  DX of maltracking and tilt in both knees, minor patellar tendonitis
'11  Scope w/ synovectomy and lateral meniscus trim

Offline aaa

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Re: Will my chondromalacia ever go away?
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2011, 04:51:59 PM »

i could be wrong, but i'm doubtful anyone here could give a clear answer about chondromalacia, as i think each case is unique and there can be many factors involved

if you have the means, i would encourage you to see a Doctor who specializes in treating patellofemoral joint, especially since the pain is persistent for a few years

A qualified Doctor can examine you and get the appropriate imaging done for a more complete study





Offline dancinonwater

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Re: Will my chondromalacia ever go away?
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2011, 12:30:49 AM »
Thanks for the advice! I'm currently in PT, and we're going to try braces to keep my patellae from subluxating, and if this doesn't work,  I'll definately see a patellofemoral specialist. I know this could help prevent more cartilage damage, but all I was really wondering is if my Chondromalacia pain will go away. I understand that if it is stage 4 it might not, but I don't know what stage, so if anyone could just give me a general answer, that would be great!
13 years old, dancer, musical theatrist

08-09  PT for patellar maltracking and frequent subluxations in the LK
08-current  knee pain in LK & RK
'11  DX of maltracking and tilt in both knees, minor patellar tendonitis
'11  Scope w/ synovectomy and lateral meniscus trim

Offline smillie

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Re: Will my chondromalacia ever go away?
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2011, 01:01:57 AM »
It can come and go based on your level of irritation, your level of damage (yours probably isn't that bad yet since you're young, but anything is possible), and how strong your knee is at any given time. Mine started bothering me at about your age and my problems came and went for years. I wasn't dancing or doing something extremely demanding usually, so that helped. I swam competitively, so that wasn't too bad. I had trouble during softball season when I played catcher, so I switched to pitcher. So it isn't automatically a permanent thing. You want to find the combination of rest and activity and PT that will get you to a point of function without the pain and you want to preserve your cartilage.
patella pain began early teens
'94 TTT/LR/VMO adv.
'94 MUA
'10 tried PT again
1/11 scope/hardware removal
4/11 (Finally!) dx medial instability due to LR
5/9/11 LPFL reconstruction scheduled

Offline dancinonwater

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Re: Will my chondromalacia ever go away?
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2011, 03:03:17 AM »
Thanks so much for posting! I sure hope the pain will go away, and I'm working hard on finding things that can help or atleast prevent more damage! I assume that once I find a good brace and strengthen my muscles more the pain will gradually die down because my cartilage will be less irritated. Thanks again for your response, I think I'm understanding this whole confusing Chondromalacia thing a bit better!
« Last Edit: February 07, 2011, 03:06:33 AM by dancinonwater »
13 years old, dancer, musical theatrist

08-09  PT for patellar maltracking and frequent subluxations in the LK
08-current  knee pain in LK & RK
'11  DX of maltracking and tilt in both knees, minor patellar tendonitis
'11  Scope w/ synovectomy and lateral meniscus trim

Offline crankerchick

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Re: Will my chondromalacia ever go away?
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2011, 03:07:53 PM »
Chondromalacia is a blanket term doctors and PTs throw out there. Specifically it means nothing more then wearing of the cartilage behind the patella, but often times it is used interchangeably with "anterior knee pain" ie "my knee hurts" which is unfortunate.

In your case, you haven't had any real imaging, so the "diagnosis" your physical therapist gave you doesn't really mean a whole a lot. Not saying your PT doesn't know what he/she is doing, I'm just saying that the things that have been said that are wrong with your knee are not things one can look at and feel on the knee and discover. It's more like, those are the standard answers we are told when we say, "My knee hurts, especially when I walk up stairs." There a variety of reasons for why your knee might be hurting and a diagnosis of "chondromalacia" (which isn't really a diagnosis, but more a symptom) just frankly doesn't mean a whole lot.

That said, to answer your question, if it truly is cartilage damage, whether or not the pain will go away really depends on if the reason for the damage is uncovered and effectively treated. PT and bracing are definitely the first stop conservative "treatments" aimed at helping to get it under control and managed. You haven't been in PT for very long and it does take time to see if it will help. Like everyone else already said, it also is a matter of finding the right balance of activity level and rest.

Just try to be patient and do your exercises and everything and see where you are in a few weeks.

For what it's worth, I was told for years, starting when I was younger than you, that I had "chondromalacia" and "patella instability." My pain would come and go, but was always worse the more active I was. I'm 29 now and at least for my worse of the two knees, the chondromalacia "diagnosis" was a complete sham. My cartilage behind my kneecap is in good condition so says imaging and looking at the shape of the cartilage during surgery.

Try not to let what your health professionals are saying and what you are reading online about cartilage damage scare you into thinking you have some kind of cartilage damage that is going to stay with you for the rest of your life. It's true that once your cartilage is lost, it's gone, but what may not be true is you having some sort of cartilage damage to begin with.
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Offline dancinonwater

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Re: Will my chondromalacia ever go away?
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2011, 09:20:18 PM »
I do realize that this is not a diagnosis, and that it isn't definate without specific tests, but I was just wondering especially because my PT is really sure that whatever my initial diagnosis is (which we are pretty sure about, but I'm going to get an MRI in a couple of days just incase) it has caused Chondromalacia.
13 years old, dancer, musical theatrist

08-09  PT for patellar maltracking and frequent subluxations in the LK
08-current  knee pain in LK & RK
'11  DX of maltracking and tilt in both knees, minor patellar tendonitis
'11  Scope w/ synovectomy and lateral meniscus trim

Offline smillie

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Re: Will my chondromalacia ever go away?
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2011, 04:30:49 AM »
Here is a link to some information about Chondromalacia: http://www.kneeguru.co.uk/KNEEsurgeon/grelsamer01/index.php?itemid=46

When we say it isn't really a diagnosis, we don't necessarily mean that because an OS hasn't said it yet. The author of that article equates it to you going to a doctor with pain in your head and he calls it a headache--well, yeah, it's a headache, but is it caused by a migraine or a blood sugar problem or a brain tumor or allergies...???  Big difference there. Chondromalacia is a term that means the front of your knee hurts. It doesn't speak to why your knee hurts at all. It is a symptom, not a diagnosis. It is a term that implies that you have a cartilage problem under your patella, but many people will make that "diagnosis" for anterior knee pain whether they are aware of actual cartilage problems or not. It can lead you to believe that your cartilage is shot but that isn't necessarily the case. So if you do go and get a diagnosis of "Chondromalacia," ask for more information--what are the indications? What is the cause? etc.
patella pain began early teens
'94 TTT/LR/VMO adv.
'94 MUA
'10 tried PT again
1/11 scope/hardware removal
4/11 (Finally!) dx medial instability due to LR
5/9/11 LPFL reconstruction scheduled

Offline dancinonwater

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Re: Will my chondromalacia ever go away?
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2011, 05:10:34 AM »
Sorry, I'm not very good at explaining things, but when i said that i knew it wasn't a diagnosis and then went on to talk about tests, i didn't exactly mean for those two things to be connected. I do understand that it isn't a diagnosis in the fact that it is just a symptom caused by another problem, but by the testing thing i meant that i haven't had lab tests to confirm that i have cartilage damage. My knee problems are pretty complicated, like i know that alot of people here have so many injuries, i could never compete (lol, just kidding ;) ) but it's just hard to diagnose and figure out my problems. Again, i havent had many tests yet, but i'm going in a couple days for an MRI and follow up with my orthopedist, but i do know that i have some form of cartilage damage, so i really just wanted to learn a bit more about cartilage damage in general, specifically the healing proccess. thanks for the link, i'll check it out! and again i'm sorry i was unclear about what i thought chondromalacia was, but thanks for making sure i was on the right track!

-dancinonwater
13 years old, dancer, musical theatrist

08-09  PT for patellar maltracking and frequent subluxations in the LK
08-current  knee pain in LK & RK
'11  DX of maltracking and tilt in both knees, minor patellar tendonitis
'11  Scope w/ synovectomy and lateral meniscus trim

Offline smillie

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Re: Will my chondromalacia ever go away?
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2011, 11:41:09 PM »
No problem! Patello-femoral problems are very tricky to diagnose and even trickier to fix. I have had 4 different doctors tell me this year that my problems are cartilage related and I just had a scope so they could see if I needed a PFJR or a TKR and they were surprised to see that I need neither. What they were assuming is cartilage damage must be something else. I've been battling this since I was your age and now I have a son who is your age. Just keep an open mind and keep seeking answers. Lots of patience is in order!
patella pain began early teens
'94 TTT/LR/VMO adv.
'94 MUA
'10 tried PT again
1/11 scope/hardware removal
4/11 (Finally!) dx medial instability due to LR
5/9/11 LPFL reconstruction scheduled

Offline keepupwith

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Re: Will my chondromalacia ever go away?
« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2011, 12:25:37 PM »
Seeking answers is good advice!! I was diagnosed with bilateral chondromalacia at the age of 12 and am now the grand old age of 44. There is a lot of debate over the term as it seems to be used as a blanket term for anterior knee pain which isn't always cartilage related. However mine I am told is true 'chondromalcia' and does it ever go away? well I can only speak from personal experience and I suppose the answer is no, but it can be dealt with.
When I had the op on my right knee (the worst one) I was just 16, it was open surgery and not something that would be done now, but that knee to this day, is I would say pretty much OK. The left knee I had arthroscopy and lateral release on 17 years ago and over the last year have had problems again, hence going for arthroscopy again next week.
In between times, the knees have been pain free and while not particularly 'strong' it hasn't prevented me from trying skiing, hill walking etc. So hang on in there, I tried all sorts of treatments before they resorted to what was major surgery back then and 17 yrs out of keyhole isn't bad either.
Good luck, I hope you get some answers

Offline ashok_guru

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Offline musicmaster

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Re: Will my chondromalacia ever go away?
« Reply #14 on: February 26, 2011, 05:01:00 PM »
i know this is a few day late, but i also have patellachondromalacia. they told me to strengthen my quad muscles ALOT. it wen away for about a week or 2 nd it is now back again