Loose bodies are bits of bone, cartilage or other tissue that have broken free and are floating within the knee, shoulder, or hip joint. Individuals with a degenerative joint disease (e.g., arthritis or osteochondritis dissecans) are more likely to develop these loose bodies in the knee.
Loose bodies are classified as either stable or unstable. Stable loose bodies are in a fixed position and are generally well tolerated by the individual. Unstable loose bodies are free to move about the joint and cause symptoms. The most common symptoms of loose bodies include knee pain and swelling, with intermittent locking or catching of the joint. The locking disappears spontaneously, only to recur. Typically, a loose body that is causing pain can be removed with a minimally invasive, arthroscopic procedure.