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Mysterious knee and ankle swelling

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For almost 6 months my right knee and ankle have been swollen and painful. I went to an orthopedic doctor, who drained my knee, tested the fluid, did x-rays, MRI, blood work and came up with nothing what so ever.... I am now being sent to a rheumatologist in March. I did not injure myself, and I do not have any crystals or gout or RA.... Also when I was young, my left knee was swollen on and off. I had an orthopedic surgeon preform 3 surgeries, and fixed the mysterious problem, but he never could tell me what caused it. (no injury at that time either.). My uncle on my mothers side has this as well, but both knees are swollen and one ankle. He had been to all kinds of doctors, and no one can tell him what it is or how to fix it. He has had this for the last 25 years....I'm only 31, I'm scared that this is my same fate. I can't hike, snowboard, walk my dogs very well, work at a job that requires me to be mobile, exercise. Or anything that involves using my right leg. Has anyone else heard of this? And is there a cure?! I am seeing a rheumatologist like I said in a few weeks, but while I am optimistic, I'm worried he's gonna have no answer for me either......

Thanks for any input!
Also I should mention that my swollen knee itches periodically, and so does my ankle.. And always in the same spot...
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replied February 22nd, 2012
Especially eHealthy
Lkynlov,

As you are probably aware, knees do not just swell up for no reason. However, you also do not have a "normal" knee, since it has been operated on three times. Even in the absence of any identifiable disorder, the fact that it has been violated surgically three times is enough in some cases to cause lasting chronic problems.


Do you know what the surgeon was doing in those three cases? It almost sounds like he just did some "housecleaning", maybe a synovectomy, to decrease the swelling that was occurring. But, if the underlying cause of the synovial overgrowth was never identified, it most likely has just returned.

You might want to see if you can get copies of the surgeon's Operative Reports, Narrative Summaries, and any pathology reports from the hospital. This might provide the rheumatologist with some idea of what the surgeon was thinking.



Unfortunately, there are a whole host of inflammatory arthropathies and autoimmune disorders that have no serological test. Many are diagnosed bases upon the patient's history, family history, and symptoms.

With no trauma and the fact that it is affecting more than one joint, and that it is chronic, leads one to think that it is probably a systemic problem. The MRI would have shown if you had meniscal cartilage problems, defects in the articular cartilage, ligamentous deficiency, and so on. The more common disorders, such as gout and PVNS can usually be ruled out by looking at the synovial fluid. RA and ANA do have serological tests, but there is a small percentage of RA patients that are seronegative (they have the disease, but test negative).


Hopefully, the rheumatologist will be able to make something out of all the information that you have collected.

Hope you do find a name for your problem. But, even if you do not, a lot of time the rheumatologist can treat the symptoms. Which is what they do mostly anyways. There is no cure for RA or the other inflammatory arthropathies, they are just managed.

Good luck.
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replied February 22nd, 2012
Thanks for your response. It was actually my left knee that had the surgeries, and it is now my right knee that is having the swelling. The first surgery was, I believe, a mal alignment of my knee cap (lateral release?) although he was never sure what caused it. This was about 15 years ago... I will see if I can get copies of the reports like you suggested.

Thanks!
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replied February 22nd, 2012
Especially eHealthy
Lkynlove,

Sorry, I missed that, that it was the other knee that is now bothering you. But, it would still be a help if you can obtain those records. The hosptial should still have them, but they may be "archived". So, it may take some time to retrieve them.


Do hope that the rheumatologist can figure out what is going on with your joints.

Good luck.
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replied November 18th, 2012
OP email me if you get this message I might have some valuable information
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