I was diagnosed with Chondromalacia a few months ago. I am finding it difficult mentally to keep up with a physical therapy program because the results are so slow in coming and I suffer setbacks occasionally. I was an avid runner and my leg muscles atrophied somewhat after surgery from a year ago to repair a meniscus tear. Is it normal to suffer significant knee pain while you are building up the leg muscles? I suffer no pain during the exercises and I am careful and monitored by a PT. Also, does building leg muscle truly have a significant impact for most people as far as lessening pain? Finally, I am terrified by the word "arthritis." My physician, one of the top knee doctors in the US, seems to use these words interchangeably when discussing my condition. Is this normal? He discusses replacing my knee cartilage years down the road. He says I wouldn't need a total knee replacement. If I am developing arthritis, would simply replacing cartilage help the problem? Why wouldn't he replace it now, before I develop severe arthritis? I just keep reading horror stories about arthritis and its crippling effects and how it can cause knee deformity.