What is Plica Syndrome?

I’ve been having some serious knee pain in my left knee the last few days. I’ve always had problems with my knee; I thought I just had arthritis, even though I’m still really young for that. I tore my meniscus when I was 13, but it was a minor tear so rest and physical therapy fixed that right up.

Well, the last few days have been REALLY bad. I woke up in the middle of the night screaming in pain because of my knee. It feels like somebody is digging their way out of my knee, plus I have some tender pain on the side of my left knee. I’ve been taking Frame Essentials and AIMega to help combat the inflammation and the pain. Well, the pain got to the point I just couldn’t handle it anymore, and I went to see the doctor.

First off, I’m getting a new doctor. She made me feel like a loser that just wanted to get high instead of a patient who was in serious pain and needed something to take the edge off. I will not be made to feel like that, especially when I already feel horrible because I’m in pain. It’s important to be a strong advocate for yourself. I talk about this in a previous post. She sent me for an xray even though she said herself that it probably wouldn’t show anything. That annoyed me, and I tried to fight it, but to no avail. I’m sorry, xrays are expensive even when you have insurance. If you know it won’t show anything, why are you sending me there?

And of course, the xray showed nothing. I had to fight to get an MRI, because my doctor wanted to send me straight to physical therapy. I understand that physical therapy can be a really good course of treatment, but we didn’t know WHY I was in pain. I didn’t want to go into physical therapy without a diagnosis. I was afraid by jumping the gun, I could destroy my knee even more. So I went in for my MRI, and she sent me to an orthopedic today.

The official diagnosis is Patellar Tendonitis and Plica Syndrome. I got a cortisone shot to help with the inflammation, and some painkillers to help me out until the steroid kicked in. While the tendonitis will go away, Plica Syndrome will not. It’s a lifelong condition that can flare up at any time.

Plica (pronounced PLI-kah) syndrome occurs when plicae (bands of synovial tissue) are irritated by overuse or injury. Synovial plicae are the remains of tissue pouches found in the early stages of fetal development. As the fetus develops, these pouches normally combine to form one large synovial cavity. If this process is incomplete, plicae remain as four folds or bands of synovial tissue within the knee. Injury, chronic overuse, or inflammatory conditions are associated with this syndrome.

The goal of treatment for plica syndrome is to reduce inflammation of the synovium and thickening of the plicae. The doctor usually prescribes medicine such as ibuprofen to reduce inflammation. People are also advised to reduce activity, apply ice and an elastic bandage to the knee, and do strengthening exercises. A cortisone injection into the plica folds helps about half of those treated. If treatment fails to relieve symptoms within 3 months, the doctor may recommend arthroscopic or open surgery to remove the plicae.

I got a cortisone shot right in my knee, which I did not enjoy at all. It felt like my knee was going to explode, but that was the medicine filling up my tendon. Now that it has been absorbed it doesn’t feel like that anymore. So I’ll keep it rested and iced, and they said I should be up and about again by the end of the week. The Plica Syndrome will come back though, and it depends on how often and severity of it with each time until it may be time to remove the plica. As it explained above, it thickens every time it gets irritated and inflamed, and eventually removal is necessary.

Hopefully, it will be a long time before it comes to that, but until then I’ll have to take good care of my knee.

One thought on “What is Plica Syndrome?

  • February 26, 2013 at 3:33 am

    Hi, I hope you get better and recover from teh pain and agony.

    I have had the similar problem of choices put to me under pressure when in pain. I too had to do the unnecessary XRAY and MRI, also took severl Pyhsio treatments. was diagnosed with a ‘medial Mensicus tear” was told that an Athroscopy was necessary. i am against operations and hoping for some other way to recover… hoping i can receive some honest advise on this.




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