Causes Behind Buckling Knees
My left knee buckles occasionally. When it happens I can't put weight on the leg, and it is very painful. The X-ray showed some calcium pieces in the knee. Please tell me what this means and if there is a name for it. I have been referred to an orthopedic surgeon. Thank you so much.
By Dr. Rodanthi Kitridou
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It seems that you have a piece of calcified cartilage that has come loose and is floating freely within the joint space. Also called a "loose body" or "joint mouse," this can become caught in your joint, causing your knee to buckle and even "catch."
The buckling you describe may be caused by instability of the knee due to weakened ligaments. Loose bodies can form because of trauma, because of a broken-off osteophyte (bony spur), or because of osteochondritis dissecans, where part of the bone loses circulation and fragments. In all these cases fragments of bone or cartilage come loose and float inside the knee joint. These fragments can be removed by arthroscopic surgery, which can be done as day surgery. The orthopedic surgeon makes two incisions, one for an instrument with a light to visualize the joint, and one to insert an instrument that can be used to remove the loose body.
There are other causes for calcium in joints. A type of arthritis that is called pseudogout ("false gout"), or chondrocalcinosis, can cause fine calcium deposits on the cartilage of the knees and other joints. Pseudogout can cause chronic or acute arthritis with inflammation, and special calcium crystals can be identified in the joint fluid. Pseudogout is treated with medications, not with surgery. Your orthopedic surgeon should be able to tell you what's going on inside your knee and the best way to treat it.
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