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Loose Body in the Knee

Sometimes, a piece of bone or cartilage from a structure in the knee can break loose or detach from its natural position. This is commonly called a “loose body.” If a loose body floats around the knee joint, it is referred to as unstable. Loose bodies can be different sizes and can inhibit the natural movement of the knee, resulting in locking of the knee joint

Loose Body in the Knee Hero Image 2

Sometimes, a piece of bone or cartilage from a structure in the knee can break loose or detach from its natural position. This is commonly called a “loose body.” If a loose body floats around the knee joint, it is referred to as unstable. Loose bodies can be different sizes and can inhibit the natural movement of the knee, resulting in locking of the knee joint.

What causes Loose Body in the Knee?

Loose bodies in the knee can be the result of a traumatic injury to the knee or wear and tear.

Loose bodies in the knee are common in these sports:

• Basketball
• Football
• Rugby
• Soccer
• Volleyball

Symptoms

You may have a loose body in the knee if you experience one or more of the following symptoms:

• Pain
• Swelling
• Locking (inability of the knee to straighten) because the piece gets stuck in the joint
• Hearing a grinding sound when moving the knee

When to see a doctor

If you experience symptoms of a loose body in your knee, such as swelling or locking, make an appointment with an orthopedic specialist. During your appointment, your doctor will ask you to describe your symptoms. He/she will then examine the knee for pain and swelling.

In order to make a diagnosis, your doctor may prescribe the following imaging tests:

• X-ray to identify a loose piece of bone in the knee
• MRI to identify a loose piece of cartilage in the knee

Non-operative treatment

If a loose body causes symptoms, it will need to be removed surgically.

Surgical Treatment

A loose body in the knee is removed using arthroscopic surgery. Arthroscopic surgery is a minimally invasive surgical technique that uses several tiny incisions roughly one centimeter long. Through one incision, a special camera attached to a thin, flexible tube called an arthroscope is inserted. This camera allows your surgeon to locate the loose body. Through the other incisions, special instruments are inserted to remove it.

Recovery

Recovery from loose body removal surgery generally takes two to four weeks. You can return to normal play when you have regained full range of motion and strength without any pain. It is important to follow all post-surgery instructions given to you by your doctor.

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