Discussions By Condition: I cannot get a diagnosis.

Mystery Knee Problem

Posted In: I cannot get a diagnosis. 2 Replies
  • Posted By: Delawarekathy
  • February 16, 2009
  • 03:05 AM

I am a 57 yr. old female with a mystery knee problem.
When it started about 8 yrs. ago, I would feel like my knee was catching or slipping out of joint - usually when straightening my legs after sitting on the floor cross-legged. The catching seems to occur on the lateral posterior side (outer back side) of the knee where the fibular collateral ligament meets the top of the fibula. In the beginning, it was just a catching feeling and an Ouch, with no residual pain. Over the years, the catching and ouch progressed to become so painful, I couldn't stand on that leg for an hour or so.

Three years ago, I saw an Orthopedic Dr. who did arthroscopic surgery for a suspected meniscus tear. After surgery, the doctor said he found no meniscus tear and said my knee was fine, except for some early Chondromalacia (softening of the cartlidge under the patella). He said I had some plica tissue that might be causing my trouble, which he trimmed down.

The surgery did not cure my knee problem. I have since consulted with 4 Orthopedic Specialists, had several MRI's and done months of Physical Therapy, including faithfully performing leg exercises several times a day with the addition of leg weights to build up leg muscles.

I no longer sit cross legged anymore and am extremely cautious not to twist, turn, kneel, or over-use my knees.

Still, the locking problem occurs, without warning. The length of time for recovery after a lockup has progressed to where I'm unable to put any weight on sore knee leg for several days, then I'm limping for over a week.

After recovery, the knee has no pain and no limit to range of motion until the mysterous knee lock occurs again without warning (about every 2 or 3 months).

The last few times it happened, I was sleeping in bed, having no recent trouble or pain and just moved my leg slightly to straighten it, felt it catch and lock with extreme pain. Then I'm unable to use the leg until it recovers from the trauma.

The last doctor I consulted, an Orthopedist at the University of Pennsylvania said he couldn't find anything wrong (excepting the Chondromalacia) . So I asked him "Do I just have to live with this knot knowing when my knee will go out on me again"? His reply was "sometimes patients come in here who can't walk at all, and we have to tell them we can't help them. At least you can walk most of the time."

My friends have suggested a knee replacement, however my knee joint is fine - at least according to MRI's and photos taken inside my knee during arthroscopy. My mystery condition is worsening. I am turning into a handicapped person because of a mystery knee problem, and don't know where to turn next.

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2 Replies:

  • It sounds like your kneecaps are doing a thing called subluxation. It's when the cap shifts off the little cup that the leg bones create. It can hurt. The sensation is often that the knee has "locked". Gentle pressure will put the knee back where it belongs, but it can often hurt like the dickens in the meantime. I had to have 4 reconstructions done on mine. I was missing a tendon on both legs, the interior medial something, I think. It wasn't there to hold the knee cap in the right direction. All other pieces were there, good meniscus, nice patellar groove, etc. I was able to recreate the sublux on demand, but maybe the docs haven't manipulated the knee left and right enough to test out your caps' staying power. No way should you have to live in fear that it could pop out on you. It messes with your head...you're too young to have such long term uncertainty.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • February 17, 2009
    • 03:20 AM
    • 0
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  • Dear MKP,Like you I have I have an undiagnosed knee problem. I liked sublux's hypothesis and wondered if any of the physios you have seen would have checked the action of your patella in the trochea groove. Assuming you have seen a physio. Coming back to the idea of you have a healthy knee that is exhibiting unhealthy symptoms I wonder if you have had an ultrasound with the knee in motion (Rod Jaque recommendation from the Sports Injury Bulletin) to check out any of the biomechanical issues that could cause the patellar to jam up. Also I am guessing you have had NSAIDS in your treatment plan. (“Pain-killing drugs, such as NSAIDs do not cure osteoarthritis. In the long-term they make it worse by blocking repair processes as well as the process of inflammation. They have been found to actually to *****d the growth of cartilage. ("NSAID and Osteoarthritis - Help or Hindrance?", P. Brooks, et al, Journal of Rheumatology, 1982; 9:3-5.) Nutritionist Robert Crayhon, M. S. says that NSAIDs are "the number one accelerator of joint destruction in America.") You also don't mention if you have taken part in a stretching program. Please have a look at my website where you might find some info that could help. www.goodpainbadpain.com If it really can't be fixed you might like to use some of the ideas I have collected to help with pain. Please let me know how you go, I think the more that people share information the better chance we all have of helping ourselves. Best wishes for a happy result.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
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