How to Tell If Your Knee Pain Is a Result of a Loose Body?

You’re not alone if you’re experiencing knee pain or symptoms due to osteoarthritis. Studies have shown that an estimated 40% of men and 47% of women will develop this condition. Knee pain can result from a myriad of other issues as well, including loose bodies in your joint. How do you know if your pain is a result of these loose bodies?
Loose bodies can present symptoms of pain, swelling, and decreased mobility in the knee. It’s essential for you to understand what loose bodies are and what kind of issues they can cause for the knee. If loose bodies are left untreated, the symptoms will only worsen. An orthopedic knee surgeon at NJ Spine & Orthopedic can help eliminate loose bodies, relieve you of your pain, and regain mobility in the knee.

What Are Loose Bodies?

Loose bodies are fragments of bone and cartilage that break free and float around in the fluid that protects and lubricates the knee joint. The fragment sizes can vary from a few millimeters up to several centimeters. Small or big pieces of bone or cartilage are enough to interfere with the function of the knee. 

Loose bodies can be broken off due to an injury while participating in sports, causing fragments to break off. Another common cause of loose bodies is osteoarthritis. As people get older, it’s common for osteoarthritis to occur in the knee, especially if obesity is a factor. The deterioration of the bone and cartilage due to osteoarthritis makes them fragile and results in fragmentation. If you injured the knee in the past, this may hasten the progression of osteoarthritis as well.   

How Loose Bodies Are Related to Knee Pain

If there are any loose bodies present in the knee, they can get caught in the joint as you flex or extend the knee. For example, if there is a foreign fragment where there shouldn’t be, this can cause pain and swelling. In addition, the loose bodies caught within the knee joint will not allow you to flex or extend the knee to the fullest range and may even cause the knee to lock or become stuck in one position. Other symptoms include difficulty walking or feeling like something is moving in the knee.

Unfortunately, even if loose bodies are eventually freed from the joint and symptoms go away, they may still continue migrating nearby, risking interference with the joint again and the return of symptoms. Therefore, consult a medical professional for the first signs of loose body knee pain or related symptoms.

Osteoarthritis and Loose Body Treatments to Relieve Knee Pain

When osteoarthritis develops due to normal wear-and-tear, disease, or injury, it can cause damage to all areas of the knee joint. Pain, swelling, and the loss of motion in a joint can progress when the following parts of the knee joint continue to deteriorate:

  • The cartilage that covers the ends of bones that meet to form the knee joint
  • Tendons and ligaments
  • The lining of knee joints
  • The bones themselves
  • Meniscus

The doctor will conduct a physical exam and check your reflexes and pain response of the problem knee. X-rays and MRIs can detect loss of joint space, bone damage, bone spurs, and damage to soft tissues in and around the joint. In addition, these imaging scan methods may spot large fragments of loose bodies.

Physical therapy and exercise can help reduce pain and improve the function of the knee. Medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or acetaminophen, can also reduce pain and inflammation. However, an orthopedic surgeon can replace the knee when traditional treatments no longer work. 

When loose bodies are detected, you can treat pain, swelling, and mobility issues with physical therapy and anti-inflammatory drugs, but they don’t go away on their own. They often continue to cause further problems. Minimally-invasive surgery can remove loose bodies and prevent worsening symptoms.

Contact the Knee Specialists at NJ Spine & Orthopedic Today

Consult the NJ Spine & Orthopedic knee specialists if you are experiencing knee pain, swelling, limited mobility range, or intermittent locking of your knee joint. Our skilled team can conduct imaging scans and other methods to confirm if loose bodies are present in your knee. 

If you’re experiencing knee pain or mobility issues, call us and our Concierge Team at (866) 553-0612 or complete our contact form for relief.

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