Chondromalacia means softening of any cartilage.
Cartilage is a type of tissue that helps form many
important body structures, such as the ears, nose, and
behind the kneecap.  These areas can become
abnormally soft and break down. Chondromalacia
patellae is a painful disorder of the knee in which the
cartilage directly behind the kneecap (also known as
the patella) becomes soft and damaged. As in
chondromalacia patellae, the type of cartilage often
affected in chondromalacia is articular cartilage.
"Articular" refers to a joint, which is a place where two
bones contact each other.
Chondromalacia usually affects
the knee.
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When cartilage softens and breaks down, it cannot cushion the bones as well, prevents
the bones from moving smoothly against each other, which leads to pain and restricted
range of movement. Chondromalacia can also occur in the elbow due to overuse injuries,
such as repetitive throwing. As such, the condition commonly occurs in athletes. Other
causes of chondromalacia include bone breaks, infection, and abnormal bone and tissue
alignment. Chondromalacia can be treated in numerous ways such as pain medications,
physical therapy, and surgery.

Chondromalacia comes from the Greek word "chondros" meaning "cartilage" and the
Greek word "malakia" meaning "softness." Put the words together and you have "cartilage

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