Honestly, I do not know what your problem. However, what I am thinking here is that perhaps you have developed a chronic synovitis. Your knee has a joint lining of synovial membrane and when this membrane continues to get irritated, it swells and causes stiffness and swelling in the area above the knee, more commonly known as suprapatellar swelling is one of the characteristics of synovitis, but often the whole knee area will swell. A synovectomy to remove the synovial membrane is sometimes done to help remove the inflammed membrane. Pain, inflammation, stiffness, swelling are all cardinal symptoms of synovitis.
I am aware that about 15 yrs ago one treatment for this as a clinical trial treatment at the time was using radiation. I do not know the outcome of the clinical trial and radiation is a drastic measure and not without some potentially significant, life long complications. Synovectomies, when suggested, often do help the symptoms of synovitis however, the synovial membrane has the ability to regenerate after a number of months and then the symptoms return..A synovectomy is not a minor procedure and requires 4-6 weeks on average before "recovery." If synovitis is the diagnosis and if a synovectomy were suggested as a possible option, you would need to know that the symptoms could reoccur since the synovial membrane does regenerate. You might have relief of symptoms but they may not be long term and not worth the time and risks of surgery for a short term benefit potential.
There is no way to know if you would regenerate the same amt. of synovial membrane..Some people do benefit enough that it is worth the surgery, other people do not.
I am wondering if an MRI being done now would be able to show a more conclusive diagnosis of your problem. Has this been suggested? Have steroid injections recently been given in your knee? WHile the latter might help on a short term basis, they must be used sparingly because in time, too many steroid injections into the knee will deteriorate the integrity of the bone/joint and you would not want to risk that. However, I think it might be appropriate to ask your ortho. if he/she thinks injecting the joint once with steroids might help make a difference. If this is done, it sometimes takes several days before the effect is apparent.
I am also wondering if you have developed an "overgrowth" with too much scar tissue having developed. Has anyone mentioned this? An MRI would show this. Also, has anyone mentioned undergoing an arthrogram for your knee?
Re some sort of a nerve problem with the knee, I would definitely think that an ortho would be able to tell if this was a culprit or not. I cannot help but wonder if your problem is not a chronic synovitis myself, this can surely make for a painful knee and make it swell, make it stiff, make it feel achy and often times oral antiinflammatories don't do much to help but a cortisone injection might help, maybe talk to your ortho about this.
I hope this helps If so, please click the accept button. Best of luck. All the best, Susan