Sports Rehab for Chondromalacia Patella

Shrug Test

Sports Rehab for chondromalacia patella or patellofemoral syndrome is commonly seen in many physical therapy offices. The reason for this is that chondromalacia patella is the most common knee ailment.

The condition is caused by poor tracking of the patella resulting in inflamed cartilage and tendon areas. Normally the knee cap moves over the knee joint in a straight path but with chondromalacia it veers off road usually to the lateral aspect.

The anterior knee pain associated with chondromalacia patella intensifies with running, jumping, stairs and sitting for long periods with a bent knee. This condition rarely requires surgical intervention and is almost completely resolved with sports rehab. Here we are going to discuss the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of this common knee problem.


PFSThe condition is diagnosed simply by a positive shrug sign. With the patient complaining of anterior knee pain, the doctor will apply compression to the knee cap while the quadriceps muscle is tightened. If pain is noted then this is a positive sign that chondromalacia is present.

The condition also presents a tight sensation along the anterior aspect of the knee especially while ambulating on stairs. Teenagers and young adults are vulnerable to the condition. Once diagnosed the orthopedist sends the patient to sports rehab.

Sports Rehab

knee supportThe goal of physical therapy or sports rehab for this condition is to create a better path the patella must take with quadriceps contraction. The patient should start taking anti-inflammatory medication and apply ice daily.

Specific strengthening of the inner quadriceps muscle must be performed to normalize patella tracking. Patients must be shown proper quad setting exercises which is essential to stabilizing the patella. Quad set is a maximum contraction of the quadriceps muscle with the knee completely extended and held for a minimum of 10 seconds. These must be done 15 times per day ( performing sets of 10).

The patient must refrain from jumping, running and squatting activities. Sports rehab will consist of low level resistance such as a stationary bicycle or swimming. Keeping the hamstring and quadriceps muscles flexible will require daily stretching routines. This is very important in reducing the discomfort. With difficult cases of chondromalacia the physcial therapist will recommend a knee brace and will show you proper taping techniques.


quad setWith a few weeks of sports rehab the patient should have complete relief of symptoms and return to normal functioning. Once discharged from physical therapy the patient should ease into any activity that requires running or jumping. Icing the knee after any activity is highly recommended and should also be done at the end of the day.

Using an elevator especially when there are many flights of stairs is advisable. It is a must to avoid sitting for long periods with a bent knee. Always keep in mind to get an aisle seat in a movie, theatre, restaurant or airplane so you have the ability to extend the knee. Keeping up with the proper stretching and strengthening is your best chance of keeping the symptoms from returning. If you are overweight losing weight will decrease stress on the knee.

If you have this condition it is best to follow the advise of the sports rehab specialist or physical therapist to recovery and keep symptoms form returning. Don’t hesitate to ask questions because knowledge is power!