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Pain Management

Forty year old knee injury- new technology?

10/28/2011

Question:

I have been an active 63 YO male who had ligiment/cartilege damage to my right knee in the late `70s that was never medically attended to at the time (other than an ER physican removing fluid from the knee an hour after the injury). Because I have always been active, problems were not manefested until the past five years. In 2007, "loose bodies"(4) were found to have migrated into muscle tissue in the back of my knee. One additional loose body that had migrated to the knee cap area and was sometimes limiting movement was surgically removed. At that time, I was told that there was nothing that could be done to remove the irritating loose bodies that found their way to the knee muscle at the back of the knee.

I have become somewhat less active since 2009. Three days ago, after moving around my garden on my hands and knees for an hour, standing upright caused severe pain in that area that has not subsided. Is there technology now available that could possibly pulverize these loose bodies in there place? It feels like I squeezed or scrunched them while I was on my knees in the garden. I, now, can not fully extend my knee or fully bend the knee.

Answer:

You are likely suffering from arthritis in the knees which sets in all people as they age. Having had an injury or trauma in the past predisposes to earlier degeneration or arthritis in some people. You would benefit from having a simple knee X-ray and seeing an orthopedic surgeon. The problem may not be loose bodies (which are usually ligament fragments) as much as progression of arthritis. Newer technologies have resulted in smaller incisions for a number of surgical procedures including those of the knee, such as in knee replacement surgery.

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Response by:

Salim M Hayek, MD, PhD Salim M Hayek, MD, PhD
Associate Professor of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University