Loose bodies are small fragments of cartilage or bone that can form in joints; particularly the hip, knee and elbow.
Loose bodies don’t have to cause problems and they can often be stable and fixed within the joint space. If they are free in the joint they may become trapped between the bony joint surfaces where they may give rise to twinges of pain, locking of the joint or blocked or ‘springy’ movements.
A loose body in the hip joint causes twinges of pain felt in the groin or radiating down the front of the leg. There may also be the sensation of the hip locking or giving way and the patient may feel unable to put weight through the leg. The condition is most commonly associated with osteoarthritis in the hip.
Physiotherapy can help by applying a special technique that stretches out the joint a little to give the loose body room to move, and then applying a few sharp flicks to jolt the loose body into a more comfortable position. If the pain is severe and debilitating surgical removal may be necessary and if associated with advanced arthritis, joint replacement or resurfacing may take place at the same time.
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