How do my knees work?

The knee is one of the largest and most complex joints in the body. Yet many people don’t appreciate the significant role it has in helping us to do the things we love.

The knee is a hinge, weight-bearing joint. It joins together the thigh to the shin and is made of four bones: the femur, tibia, patella (also known as the kneecap) and fibula. Beyond the bones, a complex system of tendons, menisci (soft cartilage), muscles and ligaments are at work here.

Every part in the knee has its role:

  • The cartilage in the knee absorbs stress and allows the knee to bend easily.
  • The muscles around the knee power the leg for movement.
  • Tendons attach the muscles to the knee’s bones.
  • The ligaments in the knee are bands of tissue that connect the bones and also brace the joint.
  • The menisci absorb shock between the thigh and the shinbone.

When all these parts are working healthily, the knee should move easily.

Due to the limited range of motion that the knee has and the heavy load it often carries, the knee can be prone to injuries. Knee pain can result from a knee injury or accident; however, many knee problems can actually develop under excess strain over time. This may be because parts of the knee are weak or the pads that lubricate the joint have become damaged.

As people become older there is a greater chance of knee problems. The structures in the knee can be injured through wear and tear or they can be affected by knee disease, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or spontaneous osteonecrosis of the knee (SONK).

The first step to taking control of your knee pain is gaining an understanding of how the complex knee joint works. One of Newcastle and the Hunter Valley’s top Orthopaedic Surgeons, Dr Stuart MacKenzie has created a free guide to help you better understand your knee pain and treatment options.

2 Aug 2018

Published by Default Admin

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