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They are described as fragments of tissue or cartilage that “float” into the joint and cause serious problems when they are found at the wrong point. Loose bodies, as they are referred to in medical terminology, usually derive from injuries or conditions that damage the joints. Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, tuberculosis, benign synovial tumors, fractures, broken or cracked bones, severe injuries, or bone inflammation are considered as the “suspects”.
In the ankle joint (which formed by the lower end of the tibia, the lower end of the fibula, and the upper and lateral ankle surfaces) the loose intra-articular bodies are associated with synovitis, the dilatation of the joint capsule, the ankle impingement syndrome, as well as muscle pain. Especially when combined with joint loosening, it is most likely to intensify degenerative arthritis. Osteophytes most frequently appear in athletes’ legs, at the anterior rim of the tibia or the ankle, as a result of multiple sprains, which have not received the necessary attention.

Loose bodies mainly cause mechanical problems (jamming, trismus), pain during walking, swelling, or even “locking”. The orthopaedic surgeon can remove any fragments which are already located inside the joint, but also those that are ready to be detached, during a minimally invasive technique; at the same time, they are given the opportunity to perform a thorough check on the entire joint.

Arthroscopy in the ankle, however, requires experience and good knowledge of the joint as several nerves, vessels and tendons are located in the area - of course, nowadays, there are specialized arthroscopes and arthroscopic instruments with a small diameter. In cases of rheumatoid arthritis, it is possible to carry out a synovectomy, namely a removal of the inflamed synovial membrane.
After a severe injury episode, and the detachment of a cartilaginous or osteochondral fragment, it is possible to reposition and fix it, so it can heal - a prerequisite is that the surgery should be performed shortly after the injury. The materials used are bioabsorbable and not grafts, rehabilitation and healing time is short, there is no postoperative pain, and the patient usually returns to their activities soon.

The rehabilitation time after ankle arthroscopy depends on the severity of the lesion, and is different for each patient. After surgery, physical therapies and a gradual increase in the daily and athletic activities are recommended, for a period of 4 weeks.

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