Chondromalacia Patella (Patellafemoral) Treated Cold Laser Sioux City
Chondromalacia patella is a common condition affecting runners or jumpers. The patella is a small bone that transmits forces from the quadriceps to the tibia. Running and jumping places tremendous amounts of stress on the patella tendon, which transmits that force through the patella bone. During a normal jumping motion, the knee bends and straightens during the explosion stage, and the legs absorb the forces as the body lands. Much of the force travels through the patella tendon and patella.
Under normal circumstances, the patella bone slides comfortably in a groove on the femur. However, running and jumping can cause injury to the quadriceps muscle which results in the medial (inside) of the quadriceps weakening, causing the lateral (outside) muscles to spasm. This causes the patella to shift towards the outside of the knee. The groove was not designed for this type of movement, and there is increased rubbing and grinding of the patella surface on the femur.
Thankfully, the patella bone and the femur both have cartilage on the joint surfaces, which normally reduces friction and irritation during knee flexion and extension. However, as the patella surface shifts to the side and friction is increased, the cartilage becomes irritated and injured. Injury to the patella cartilage is called chondromalacia patella.
Chondromalacia patella is commonly treated with physical therapy modalities including heat, ice, electric, ultrasound, stretching, and exercise. As mentioned before, the inside part of the quadriceps becomes weak and the outside becomes spasmodic. Strengthening focuses on increasing the inside aspect of the quadriceps muscle, or vastus medialis. Stretching and lengthening emphasis is placed on the outside the quadriceps, or vastus lateralis. Running gait mechanics may be addressed if a poor gait is causing unnecessary stress on the knee and contributing to the chondromalacia patella. Proprioceptive or balance exercises are also commonly incorporated into a treatment plan.
A newer therapy for speeding the recovery and healing time from chondromalacia patella is a class IV cold laser. Cold lasers utilize specific frequencies to decrease pain and inflammation while enhancing cellular repair. Since chondromalacia patella is the irritation of the cartilage underneath the bone, we cannot access this area with normal therapy treatments to speed the healing process. The location of cartilage damage contributes to longer recovery times for chondromalacia patella.
Cold lasers utilize specific wavelengths and frequencies to enhance the cellular repair and decrease inflammation. Inflammation increases pain and slows the healing process. Specific laser wavelengths enhance cellular repair by increasing ATP (cellular energy stores) production in the mitochondria. Increased mitochondrial activity results in more ATP for the injured cell. If the cell has more energy available, it will spend that energy healing and repairing. When a cell does not have enough ATP, it tends to slow its metabolic activities down to ration the remaining energy. Sometimes cells are more concerned with running out of energy than repairing. Lasers activate energy production mechanisms within a cell, producing extra ATP which the cell immediately spends on repair and healing.
Cold lasers also increase blood flow to the treated region. Blood flow carries nutrients and building block materials for cellular repair. Increased blood flow means more building blocks for repair, thus faster repairing processes. Overall class IV cold lasers are an excellent treatment for enhancing cellular repair and healing. Laser therapy is an asset to any treatment plan, especially when treating chondromalacia patella.