Plica Syndrome

Knee Plica Syndrome: What You Need To Know

What is Plica Syndrome?

Plica is a shelf-like fold of the synovial membrane that failed to resolve during fetal development. It is present in about 50 percent of the population. Plica syndrome is when this membranous fold gets inflamed and irritated. Although plica allows normal movement and most plicae are asymptomatic, overuse of or an injury to the knee joint leads to developing the symptoms of plicae syndrome.

What are the causes of Plica Syndrome?

You can develop plicae syndrome by stressing and overusing your knee. Various causes of plicae syndrome include:

  • Repetitive stretching and bending of the knee joint
  • Blunt trauma or to the knee joint
  • Sudden knee twisting
  • Muscular imbalances in the thigh muscles
  • Change in knee motion, exercise, or sport activity
  • Anatomical abnormalities of the hip or knee

What are the symptoms of Plica Syndrome?

If you have plicae syndrome, you may feel the following symptoms:

  • Pain and tenderness on the front and sides of the knee
  • Pian is usually achy rather than sharp or shooting
  • Pain is dull and increases with knee activity
  • Clicking or snapping sound during knee motion
  • Catching or locking sensation after sitting for a while

How to make a diagnosis of Plica Syndrome?

Diagnosis of plica syndrome is quite difficult to make. The doctor will make the diagnosis based on the following:

  • Symptoms may help the doctor. Similar symptoms are present in many conditions, though.
  • Medical history to know your previous activities or any knee injury.
  • Physical examination to look for tenderness, knee mobility and assess the knee injury.
  • Imaging tests like X-rays or MRIs do not help diagnose plicae. But these can be used to rule out other possible conditions if the pain is chronic. An MRI may detect plicae inflammation, though.

What is the prognosis of Plica Syndrome?

The prognosis of plicae syndrome is quite good. Symptoms are relieved easily. With physical therapy and pain medications, most people feel relief within six to eight weeks. Although treatment does not require surgery, the success rate for the plicae syndrome surgery is very high.

What are the treatments of Plica Syndrome?

Your doctor may recommend the following:

  • Resting and applying ice and heat alternatively for some time
  • Take anti-inflammatory pain medications like ibuprofen or naproxen to relieve pain and inflammation.
  • A physical therapist for proper physical therapy
  • Strengthening exercises for the front thigh muscles such as the quadriceps
  • Stretching exercises for the back thigh muscles such as the hamstrings
  • Massage and manual therapy to increase range of motion

What are the interventional pain management options?

The following interventions can be done:

  1. Corticosteroid injection in knee joint if your condition does not respond to typical pain medications. It relieves pain and helps in rehab program.
  2. Redifrequency or cryoneurolysis can be done if pain is not responding.

What is the role of surgery?

Arthroscopic surgery if your condition does not respond to physical therapy or interventions.