“I am 68 years old and my right knee hurts if I walk longer than 20 minutes. The knee is also stiff every morning when I get up and try to start moving. My GP told me my recent knee X-ray has shown a bit of mild wear and tear as well as some loose bits of bone. I don’t want a knee replacement as I’m still managing to do lots of activity but do I need something done about the loose bits of bone?”
Toby Lambourne, Horder Healthcare Advanced Practitioner answers the question:
Thank you for your question which highlights a common topic I get asked about in clinic and by GP referrals. The most common outcome is no, you certainly don’t need any surgery to remove the loose bits of bone from your knee. Clinically we call these ‘loose bodies’ and it is actually fairly common for x-rays to show these. Many of us without any knee pain can often have loose bodies in the knee causing no problems whatsoever.
In very rare instances, however, when a patient complains of true locking of the knee (when the knee gets stuck in one position and you can’t unlock it) then I am suspicious that the loose body is symptomatic but this is probably only 1-2% of all the cases I see. Certainly, here your symptoms seem to fit with mild arthritic pain from the early changes on your x-ray which is a common finding in adults over 40 years old.