Two years ago (when I was 21 years old) I got diagnosed with chondromalacia patella (just the softening of the cartilage) on my right knee by my family doctor. He also said it was likely due to a patellar misaligment due to weakness on my vastus medialis muscle. He told me to take some cartilage protector vitamins (Structomax) and to do exercise to strenghten my quad muscles.
(I went previously to two orthopedists, the first one told me it was a ACL tear and wanted to operate me and the second one made me do a Magnetic Ressonance and afterwards told me there was nothing wrong with my knee and all the structures were intact so he couldnt explain the pain I felt.)
Inicially I didnt gave it much thought, being young and foolish, and started taking the vitamins and went to the gym where I started working out, specially my quads on the extensor machine (machines such as the press hurt my knee).
Two years later I seem worse, or at best the same as I was. It only hurts when I run for a while or when I walk long distances or run up flights of stairs. Sometimes I feel the knee cracking like I have sand inside the knee (on the outside part of it). Also it usually feels a little stiff.
I've been searching online and it seems that people agree that at this level exercise can help you a lot with it but I find mixed results everywhere. Some people say the VM muscle cant be isolated, others say it can, some say the extensor machine and doing squats are the best ways of recovering, others say its a big no no. I feel kinda desperate, I dont know what to do to make it better and I definitely dont wanna be doing something that makes it worse. Im terrified to death and very anxious in the last days that this will eventually progress even further and I will end up at like 35 with a replacement surgery.
I come to ask for help, what are the best course of action for me to preserve my cartilage while I can, in your experience? Should I keep training? see a phisiotherapist? any other tips? Is the Structomax the best kind or should I try another?
I am awfully sorry if this is not the right section or if my english is not the best, it is not my first language.
Thank you very much in advance.
PS: I thought I should mention, if it makes it any more useful, that I am a male and not overwheight.