Chondromalacia (KON-dro-mah-LAY-she-ah), also called chondromalacia patellae, refers to softening of the articular cartilage of the kneecap. This disorder occurs most often in young adults and can be caused by injury, overuse, misalignment of the patella, or muscle weakness. Instead of gliding smoothly across the lower end of the thigh bone, the kneecap rubs against it, thereby roughening the cartilage underneath the kneecap. The damage may range from a slightly abnormal surface of the cartilage to a surface that has been worn away to the bone. Chondromalacia related to injury occurs when a blow to the kneecap tears off either a small piece of cartilage or a large fragment containing a piece of bone (osteochondral fracture).

Wakefield Research conducted a survey of 1,000 Americans over the age of 40 that uncovered Americans’ knowledge about and perceptions of osteoarthritis, knee pain and various treatment options. More than half of survey respondents (51%) with knee pain reported that it has caused them to miss out on an activity or an event in the last 12 months. In addition, respondents who do experience knee pain ranked the following ways that it affects their lives:

  • Prevents me from doing physical activities (37%)
  • Makes common household chores more difficult (35%)
  • Limits mobility (31%)
  • Makes me depressed (16%)
  • Leave the house less (12%)
  • Makes working outside the home difficult (10%)

Although people with mobility difficulties and disabilities are more likely to experience poorer health and suffer from more conditions compared to their nondisabled counterparts, resulting in increased need for health services and higher medical costs, accessibility to primary, specialty, and preventive health care is often difficult and limited.