For most of my adult life my knees–the left more than the right–pop when I squat down to look at something or pick something up. Then, in my late 20s, my left knee started doing a weird little thing that’s hard to describe: sort of locking up, sort of feeling half-dislocated. I could fix it by bending my leg up backwards until the knee popped back into place. My doctor at the time told me to do some weight training to strengthen the muscles around the joint. I did, and the problem receded.
Yesterday, I was primed to spend my afternoon moving things from my apartment to my new house, but first I decided to stop by the grocery store to get some laundry detergent. As I was walking across the parking lot, some invisible gremlin decided it was time to store a drawer full of steak knives in my knee. It was so painful that I had to stop in the middle of the street and sit down, much to the consternation of the (thankfully slow moving) traffic.
What would have been a productively fun afternoon turned into a mostly boring few hours at the doctor’s office. (Well, I did come away with some pilfered recipes torn out of stale issues of Southern Living. Cucumber, Orange, Jalapeno Salad, anyone? How about Sweet Potato Biscuits?) By the time the doc examined me, my knee had gone back to feeling okay. He had me lay back while he manipulated my leg this way and that.
Does this hurt?
How about this?
Yes, a little.
What about this?
Good God, yes! Stop! Stop!
Aha. Well, I think you have plica syndrome
So, I’m to ice it down, maybe put on a knee brace, and take some prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs. And take it easy for a week or so.
I think I could probably round up enough friends to help me move (which in this case would mean basically doing it for me), but that doesn’t feel right. I have the apartment until the end of the month, so maybe I should just wait until the knee gets better. Doc says it should be about a week. Bleh.
Oh, and this is a definition from WebMD of “plica syndrome”:
Plica syndrome consists of irritation and inflammation of the plica. The plica is a band of remnant synovial tissue (a thin, slippery material that lines all of the joints) that is left over from the earliest stages of fetal development. Generally, as a fetus matures, these tissue pouch remnants come together to form one large cavity—the synovial cavity—within the knee. However, in some people the plica does not fuse completely, leaving four folds or bands of plica within the knee instead of one combined cavity.
Overuse and injury may inflame the plica. If you suffer from plica syndrome, you will experience pain, swelling, a clicking sensation, locking, and weakness in your knee.
If you believe you have plica syndrome, reduce your activity, apply ice and compression (an elastic bandage) to your knee, and, if necessary, try a short course of NSAIDs (see chapter 5). Only a doctor can properly and thoroughly diagnose plica syndrome, because its symptoms mimic those of many other knee problems.
You see? No mention of old age being a factor!