UMEM Educational Pearls

Patellofemoral Syndrome (Chondromalacia Patella)

  • Due to degeneration of the cartilage underneath the patella
  • Patients often present with:
    • A grinding sensation when the knee is extended
    • Pain in the front of the knee that typically worsens after sitting for a long period of time
    • Knee pain that worsens with using stairs, running or when needing to bend the knee deeply (i.e.: squats)
  • Commonly thought to be due to overuse (i.e.: new running program, or marching as in military recruits), but can also be due to anatomic abnormalities like pes planus or a large Q angle.  Ultimate cause is likely to be multifactorial
  • Can be treated with NSAIDs, and limiting activity
  • Physical Therapy that helps to strengthen the quadriceps can help prevent the patella from grinding on the femoral condyles.


Juhn MS et al. Patellofemoral pain syndrome: a review and guidelines for treatment. Am Fam Physician. (1999)