What is the anatomy of the knee?
Your knee is a hinge joint that connects the femur (thigh bone), the tibia and fibula (shinbones), and the patella (kneecap). Tough connective tissue known as articular cartilage covers the ends of the tibia and femur, as well as the posterior of the patella. Articular cartilage reduces friction between the bones of the knee joint by providing the ends smooth surfaces to glide across.
There are also two C-shaped, rubbery pads of cartilage tissue covering the top of the tibia that are known as the medial and lateral menisci. Your menisci are shock absorbers for the impact that the knee bears. The knee also has four major ligaments, namely the Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL), Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL), Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL), and the Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL).
What are injuries to the ligaments of the knee?
Injuries to the knee can occur following following sudden movement or impact to the knee. This can be caused by falling, landing awkwardly, or sudden impact from an outside force, such as during tackling. Athletes and other people in high-risk professions are at greater risk for knee ligament injuries. These injuries are known colloquially as “sprains”, and can range from stretching, to partial tears, to even complete tears of the ligament.
The knee ligament that is injured depends on the manner of the aggravating injury.
- The MCL limits the lateral movement of the knee joint, and is most commonly injured from force that hits the outer side of the knee.
- The LCL runs between the femur and the fibula on the outer side of the knee. Similar to the MCL, the LCL also stabilizes the knee against lateral movement. It is most commonly injured from force that hits the inner side of the knee.
- The ACL controls the backward and forward movements of the knee, and prevents the tibia from moving in front of the femur.
- Similar to the ACL, the PCL controls the backwards and forward movements of the knee.
What are injuries to the knee cartilage?
The knee is the most common site of cartilage defects. Majority of these defects are caused by traumatic injury, such as from sports activities or accidents. Due to the poor blood supply to the cartilage, healing from damage is usually insufficient. Degenerative conditions such as osteonecrosis and osteochondritis can also cause damage to the knee cartilage, leading to difficulty in ambulation and pain in the knee joint.
What is Runner’s Knee?
The patellofemoral pain syndrome is known by its common name of “runner’s knee”. This refers to the condition of persistent pain around the kneecap, and can be found in athletes that place repetitive stress on their knees, such as runners, skiers, jumpers, football players, among others. This condition can affect either knee, or both knees, and has been noted to be more common among women than men.
There are numerous other conditions that can affect the knee, and it is advised that you should consult a Los Angeles or Beverly Hills orthopedic doctor if you are injured. Be sure to discuss your treatment options with your physician.