Skip to Content

A Complete Guide to Plica Knee Surgery Recovery


After undergoing plica knee surgery, the next step is to make sure you properly heal and recover.

This blog post will provide you with all the information you need to make a quick and successful recovery from one of the most common knee problems.

We will discuss what is plica syndrome, as well as some tips for speeding up the healing process. If you follow our advice, you should be able to get back to your normal routine in no time!

Read more for all the plica knee surgery recovery tips you need!

Knee Plica

Both the left knee and right knee are vital parts of the human body. They allow us to walk, run, and jump. Most importantly, they support our weight when we stand. The knee is a complex joint, and its comfortable functioning relies on the healthy interaction of bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other soft tissues.

And one of these soft tissues is the plica, a thin sheet of tissue folded between the synovial membrane and the inside of the knee joint. Generally, people have 4 folds in each knee.

The plica helps to protect the joint and prevents friction between the bones and other tissues. However, if the plica becomes irritated or inflamed, it can cause pain and swelling in the knee called plica syndrome.

What is Plica Syndrome

Plica syndrome, sometimes called medial plica syndrome, is a condition that affects the knee joint. It’s characterized by pain and swelling around the knee, as well as a clicking or snapping sensation when the knee is moved.  

It occurs when a fold of tissue, known as a suprapatellar plica, becomes irritated or inflamed. The suprapatellar plica is a remnant of fetal circulation and is normally found in the knee joint.

There are four types of plica syndrome: medial, lateral, superior, and inferior.

Medial Plica Syndrome

Medial plica syndrome is the most common type. It occurs when the medial plica rubs against the joint line. This can happen after a knee injury or due to repetitive motion. Symptoms include pain and tenderness along the inside of the knee, as well as clicking or snapping sensations when moving the knee joint.

Lateral Plica Syndrome

Lateral plica syndrome is less common. It occurs when the lateral plica rubs against the joint line. This can also happen after a knee injury or due to repetitive motion. Symptoms include pain, swelling, and stiffness.

Suprapatellar Plica Syndrome

Suprapatellar plica syndrome is the least common type. It occurs when the suprapatellar plica rubs against the joint line. This can also happen after a knee injury or due to repetitive motion. Symptoms include pain, swelling, and stiffness.

Infrapatellar Plica Syndrome

Infrapatellar plica syndrome is a condition that can cause pain and swelling in the knee. It is caused by a build-up of fluid in the plica, a small piece of tissue that runs from the kneecap to the thighbone.

The symptoms of infrapatellar plica syndrome include knee pain, stiffness, and swelling. The pain is typically worse when bending the knee or taking stairs. In some cases, the plica can become inflamed and cause the knee to lock. 


Meniscus Tears vs Plica Syndrome

There are a few similarities between torn meniscus and plica syndrome. Both conditions can cause pain and swelling in the knee, and both can make it difficult to move the joint. However, there are also some key differences between the two conditions.

A torn meniscus is usually caused by an injury (or age-related degeneration), while plica syndrome is more often the result of repetitive motions. In addition, a torn meniscus can occur at any age, while plica syndrome is most common in young people.

Finally, a torn meniscus more often requires surgery to repair, while plica syndrome can often be treated with physical therapy and rest. Ultimately, both conditions can be painful and disruptive, but it is important to understand the similarities and differences in order to get the most effective treatment.

Common Causes

Plica syndrome is a condition that can be caused by several different things, but one common cause is a car accident. It can also be caused by repetitive motion, such as long-distance running, or even a trauma to the knee.

Plica syndrome is often seen in athletes who participate in activities involving extended periods of jumping or running, such as basketball or volleyball. It can also be caused by a sudden injury, such as a fall or direct blow to the knee. 

How to Diagnose

Plica syndrome is often diagnosed during a physical examination. Your doctor will ask about your medical history and symptoms, and they will also perform a physical examination of your knee.

In some cases, your doctor may also order imaging tests, such as an MRI or CT scan, to confirm the diagnosis. By confirming the diagnosis, your doctor will be able to provide the proper medical advice on whether or not you need surgical intervention or conservative treatment options.

Type of Plica Surgery

Patients with plica syndrome, if unable to progress via conservative means, typically undergo surgery with an orthopedic surgeon: called a plica resection which is a type of arthroscopic knee surgery. 

Plica resection is a minimally invasive procedure in which the surgeon removes the damaged plica tissue. This type of surgery is typically recommended for patients who have more severe plica syndrome symptoms. 

Arthroscopic knee surgery is a noninvasive procedure that involves making several small incisions around the knee joint. The surgeon then inserts a small camera and special instruments into the knee joint to remove the damaged plica tissue.

Surgery is an effective treatment method for those who have been unable to relieve their symptoms conservatively. Talk to your doctor about what is best for you and your situation.

Plica Knee Surgery Complications

Complications following arthroscopic procedures for plica syndrome are rare but can occur. The most common complication is continued pain and discomfort in the knee joint. This can be caused by inflammation of the surrounding tissue, cartilage damage, or a buildup of scar tissue.

In some cases, it may be necessary to undergo a second surgical procedure to correct these complications.

Other potential complications include

  • infection,
  • blood clots,
  • and nerve damage.

While most people experience a full recovery following surgery, be aware of these potential complications so that you can seek prompt medical attention if necessary.


Plica Knee Surgery Recovery Best Practices

While there is no cure for plica syndrome, there are several conservative treatments that can help to manage the symptoms and improve your quality of life following surgery.

Physical Therapy

One of the best non-surgical treatments to ensure a successful recovery following pica knee surgery is to participate in a physical therapy program. Physical therapy can help to improve range of motion, increase strength and flexibility, and decrease pain and swelling.

A physical therapist can also help provide guidance on appropriate activities and exercises during the recovery process that will optimize your recovery while getting to do what you love.

Ice Packs

Ice packs also help to reduce swelling and pain, and they also promote healing by decreasing inflammation. It is important to ice the area for at least 20 minutes at a time and do so multiple times per day. 

You can also use an ice machine or ice bath to help decrease the inflammation in your joint. It is safe to note that you will not be able to submerge your post-operative knee in water until your incisions are healed. Ask your doctor to learn more about what option would be best for you!

Heat Therapy

Aside from applying ice packs, or ice generally, you can also try applying heat to the affected area can help to loosen tight muscles, and increase blood flow. There are a few different ways to apply heat, such as using a heat lamp, heat pad, or hot water bottle. It’s important to take breaks every 20 minutes or so to avoid over-heating the skin.

Hope for the Best

The most important thing you can do for your plica knee surgery recovery is to have a positive mindset. It will be a long road to recovery, but if you stay positive and focus on your goals, you will improve your knee strength.

Listen to your doctor and follow their instructions; they know what’s best for you. If you have a desk job, take some time off to rest and recover.

Create primary goals in your healing journey but always remember your end goal should be to get better, not to push yourself too hard too fast. Take it one day at a time and eventually, you will be back to your old self.

Thanks for reading!