When the patella (knee cap) suffers wear and tear or there is a problem in the way the patella tracks within the femoral groove as the knee moves the underlying cartilage begins to degenerate, a condition called chondromalacia.
Degeneration of the cartilage may develop as part of the aging process or from years of activity and overuse. Osteoarthritis in the patellofemoral joint can cause chondromalacia. Typically, people who have patellofemoral problems experience pain when walking down stairs or hills. Keeping the knee bent for long periods, as in sitting in a car or movie theater, may cause pain.
The knee may grind, or make a crunching sound when you squat or go up and down stairs. You may feel popping or clicking as you bend your knee. This happens when the uneven surface of the underside of the patella rubs against the femoral groove. The knee may swell with heavy use and become stiff and tight. This fluid accumulating inside the knee joint is sometimes called water on the knee. The symptoms of pain and swelling in the knee due to chondromalacia can be treated with acupuncture. Acupuncture can reduce pain and swelling, as well as alleviate the tension in surrounding muscles causing the misalignment of the patella and hence the degeneration of the underlying cartilage.
By restoring and normalizing the flow of blood, fluids and energy in the quadriceps muscles, patellar ligaments and patella, acupuncture can significantly reduce knee pain and swelling.