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Loose Body in a Joint

Loose Body in a Joint

A loose body is a free-floating piece of bone, cartilage, or a foreign object in a joint. The knee is the most common site for loose bodies.

Causes of loose bodies include:

  • Degenerative joint disease ( osteoarthritis ).
  • A chip fracture .
  • A torn piece of the cartilage .
  • An object, such as a dislodged piece of hardware from a previous surgery or a foreign object from a penetrating injury.
  • Inflammation or decreased blood supply (avascular necrosis) to the bone and cartilage, which may cause the bone to separate from the cartilage (osteochondritis dissecans).

Symptoms of a loose body in the knee joint may include:

  • Locking of the knee that comes and goes.
  • Pain and swelling of the knee that comes and goes.
  • Being able to feel the loose body by touching the knee.
  • Ongoing (chronic) stiffness.

Your doctor may order a test, such as an X-ray, ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI, to help find a loose body. Surgery to remove the loose body or repair the kneecap may be needed if a loose body is causing symptoms.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer David Messenger, MD
Last Revised August 5, 2011

Last Revised: August 5, 2011

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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