Knee anatomy basics

The knee, the largest joint in your body, plays a crucial role in your mobility. It is a complex structure comprised of three main parts:

  • The lower end of the thigh bone, or femur.
  • The upper end of the shin bone, or tibia.
  • The kneecap, or patella.

In this joint, the femur rotates on the top of the tibia while the patella slides in a groove on the end of the femur. Ligaments connect the femur and tibia, providing stability. The quadriceps, large muscles at the front of the thigh, are essential for knee strength. Articular cartilage covers the bone surfaces within the joint, cushioning them and enabling smooth movement. The knee joint's other surfaces are lined with the synovial membrane, which produces fluid for lubrication and reduces friction.

woman holding her knee

The structure of the knee joint

The knee joint's complexity extends beyond bones and ligaments. Tendons connect muscles to bones, facilitating movement. The menisci, two C-shaped pieces of cartilage, act as shock absorbers and stabilize the joint. The knee's structure is designed for both stability and flexibility, allowing a range of movements from walking to jumping.

Common causes of knee pain

  • Osteoarthritis: Degeneration of joint cartilage and the underlying bone, most common in middle-aged and older adults.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: An autoimmune condition that can cause joint inflammation and pain in the knee.
  • Meniscal tears: Often caused by twisting or turning quickly, especially with the foot planted and the knee bent.
  • Ligament injuries: Including ACL, PCL, MCL, and LCL tears, frequently resulting from sports activities.
  • Patellar tendinitis: Inflammation of the tendons connecting the kneecap (patella) to the shinbone, common in athletes.
  • Bursitis: Inflammation of the small fluid-filled sacs (bursae) that cushion the knee joint, leading to pain and swelling.
  • Gout: A form of arthritis characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain, swelling, redness, and tenderness.
  • Runner's knee (patellofemoral pain syndrome): Pain around the kneecap often related to sports, overuse, or physical activity.
  • Fractures: Breaks in the bones of the knee, often caused by falls or severe impacts.
  • Dislocation: Occurs when the bones of the knee are out of place, either partially or completely.
  • Iliotibial band syndrome: Inflammation of the iliotibial band running from the hip to the shin, common in cyclists and runners.

Arthritic knee

If non-surgical treatments like anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy, bracing, or cortisone injections don't relieve your knee pain, knee replacement surgery may be the next step. This procedure is designed to alleviate pain and restore joint function. The decision to undergo surgery is personal and should be made based on your individual needs and in consultation with your doctor. Knee replacement surgery is a common and effective solution, with over 250,000 procedures performed annually in the U.S. since its inception in 1968. In knee replacement surgery, the damaged bone and cartilage are replaced with metal and plastic components. This surgery aims to recreate the knee's natural movement and alleviate pain. It involves a hospital stay, followed by rehabilitation to regain strength and mobility.

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Why choose us for your knee treatment?

Choosing our clinic for your knee treatment means you'll receive care from a team of experienced orthopaedic specialists. Our surgeons are skilled in both traditional and advanced knee procedures, including knee replacement. We're dedicated to providing personalized care, ensuring you understand all your treatment options, and guiding you through recovery. Our state-of-the-art facilities and commitment to patient-centered care make us a leading choice for knee treatment.

Knee Anatomy and Function FAQ

What role do the ligaments play in the knee?

Ligaments connect bones and provide stability to the knee, which is essential for movement and bearing weight.

How can I prevent knee injuries?

Regular exercise to strengthen muscles, maintaining a healthy weight, and using proper techniques during physical activities can help prevent knee injuries.

What are the signs that I might need knee replacement surgery?

Persistent knee pain, difficulty in performing daily activities, and significant loss of mobility are common indicators.

How long is the recovery period after knee replacement surgery?

Full recovery can take several months, but most patients see major improvements within the first six weeks.

Can knee function be completely restored after surgery?

While individual results vary, knee replacement surgery typically relieves pain and significantly improves joint function.

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