Loose bodies are small loose fragments of cartilage or bone that float around the joint. The loose bodies can cause pain, swelling, locking and catching of the joint. Loose body causes include osteoarthritis, fractures, trauma, bone and cartilage inflammation, and benign tumors 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 may be performed to locate the loose bodies. For small loose bodies, your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to relieve pain and swelling. However, if loose bodies are causing catching symptoms, arthroscopic surgery is often recommended to remove them. Arthrotomy, an open surgical procedure, may be necessary to remove large fragments.
Following surgery, a rehabilitation program often necessary to restore function and strength to the involved joint.