Loose bodies are small loose fragments of cartilage or bone that float around the joint. They can cause pain, swelling, locking and catching of the joint. Loose bodies occur if there is bleeding within the joint or death of tissues lining the joints, and are associated with tuberculosis, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Other causes include fractures, trauma, bone and cartilage inflammation, and benign tumours of the synovial membrane.
Loose bodies are commonly found in individuals who participate in sports since they are more susceptible to fractures and other sports injuries.
Often X-ray helps in diagnosing loose bodies. However, small loose bodies which contain little fragments of bone or no bone may not be visible on an X-ray. In such cases other diagnostic tests such as CT scan or arthrography, MRI scan and ultrasound may be performed to locate the loose body. For small loose bodies your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to relieve pain and swelling. However any loose body that is causing the symptoms are removed.
The loose bodies are removed by arthroscopic procedure. Surgery is performed depending on the location and the size of the loose bodies.
Following surgery, rehabilitation program may be needed to control pain and restore function and strength to the involved joint.