Understanding How Your Knee Works and What Can Go Wrong

Understanding How Your Knee Works and What Can Go Wrong

Your knee is the biggest joint in your body. It’s involved in pretty much all of your lower-body movements. Furthermore, it can withstand as much as five times your body weight. 

However, with all of the action your knee gets, it’s also the source of many injuries. In fact, it’s among the most common reasons people visit their orthopedist

Bryan King, MD, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon, and his team at Tuscaloosa Orthopedic & Joint Institute in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, have extensive experience diagnosing and treating all types of knee pain and injuries. Here, they explain how your knee functions and common ways it can cease to work properly. 

Parts of your knee

Some people think of the knee as simply your patella, more commonly called your kneecap. 

However, the knee is much more than that. It’s a collection of bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. Your knee joint connects the upper leg bones to the lower leg bones and allows you to sit, stand, bend, run, and do many other activities.

It consists of three bones: your femur (thigh bone), tibia (shin bone), and patella. The ends of these bones are surrounded by cartilage, which helps absorb shock and allows the bones to glide easily against one another. 

Between the tibia and the femur are two pads of cartilage called the lateral meniscus and the medial meniscus. The bones are connected by ligaments, which are tough, fibrous tissue. 

Two of these ligaments, the collateral ligaments, are connected to the inner and outer sides of the femur and the tibia, and two more, cruciate ligaments, connect the back and front of the two bones. They help stabilize your knee as you move back and forth and side to side. When all parts are healthy and working correctly, your knee is in good shape. 

Common knee injuries

The most common knee injury is to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). More than 200,000 people rupture an ACL every year. 

This type of injury is caused by a trauma or accident, usually during a sports activity. People who play sports that require sudden changes in movement, such as basketball, soccer, and lacrosse, experience high rates of ACL tears. Meniscus tears are also common and happen in the same way. 

Another injury that results from trauma or accident is a bone fracture. Any of the bones in and around the knee can be fractured, but the patella is the most common.

Arthritis is another common knee problem. Arthritis is a degenerative disease that develops from wear and tear on your joint over time. Bursitis and tendonitis are knee injuries caused by inflammation of a tendon or bursa connected to the knee.

Are you experiencing knee pain? Learn how you can get back to an active, pain-free lifestyle by calling or messaging Tuscaloosa Orthopedic & Joint Institute to make an appointment with Dr. King. 

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