Plica Syndrome

Plica Syndrome occurs when an otherwise healthy knee becomes painful due to injury or overuse. The condition is a common problem in athletes. While it is not always easy to diagnose, Plica Syndrome is easily treated.

A plica is a fold in the lining of the knee joint. It results from leftover embryo tissue that compartmentalizes in the knee during fetal development. Much like the appendix, plica can be a source of pain but serves no important function.  

What Causes Plica Syndrome? Plica Syndrome occurs when the plica becomes irritated. The irritation can happen over time through kneeling, exercise, or repetitive motions. Activities like running, bicycling, and stair climbing are common causes of irritation to the plica. Sudden injury can also cause Plica Syndrome. For example, a fall can injure the knee, causing the tissue around the plica to swell and become painful. An injury can also cause scarring and thickening of the plica, and this is likely to cause problems later on.  

What Are The Symptoms? Pain is the main symptom of Plica Syndrome. Bending the knee may also cause a snapping sensation, when the plica rubs the thigh bone where it enters the joint. The plica may be tender to touch, and in thin people, it can even be felt as a tender band beneath the skin. A severely irritated knee may also have swelling.

What Are The Treatment Options? Most people with Plica Syndrome do not require surgery. The first treatment solution is rest from the pain-causing activities. Physical therapy can strengthen the muscles and tissues around the knee. Anti-inflammatory medications and steroid injections are often prescribed to alleviate pain and swelling. Surgery may be necessary if non-operative treatment measures fail.

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