During fetal development, synovial plicae tissues grow around the still-developing joints. These tissues begin to fold inward, and the body absorbs them. However, in many individuals, the plicae remain, to some extent. Generally, the plicae are unimportant and do not affect the joints in any meaningful way. In some instances, however, the plicae become inflamed or damaged, resulting in plica syndrome, which can inhibit joint function and cause pain.
The synovial plicae are thin, pink, and elastic. This allows them to follow the movements of the joints without inhibiting them. The plicae are prone to irritation and inflammation, particularly when the joint repeats certain movements, such as bending and straightening. Because the appearance of the plicae depends on their level of absorption during development, they vary drastically from person to person. Some are fatty; others are fibrous. They can resemble long lines or have a crescent shape.
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