Knee Anatomy | Knee Pain Treatment in Portland, OR
The knee is the largest joint in the body, and is involved in a variety of routine activities such as walking, playing sports, and even standing. During these activities, the knee is subject to bearing the bulk of the body's weight, placing a great deal of stress on all of its components. Because the knee is used so frequently day-to-day, injuries are common for athletes and less active patients alike.
Understanding the anatomy of the knee may help patients better understand their own knee pain. Continue reading to learn more about the components of the knee, and how injuries can contribute to musculoskeletal conditions.
The Bones of the Knee
The knee joint is comprised of three bones: the femur, or thighbone, the tibia, or shinbone, and the patella, or kneecap. The femur meets with the tibia to form the knee's main joint, also known as the tibiofemoral joint. The patella attaches to the front of the hinge joint forming a second joint, the patellofemoral joint. The tibiofemoral joint swings like a hinge, while the patellofemoral joint sits in front to protect the rest of the knee.
The knee is able to glide and move through its natural range of motion without pain with the aid of cartilage. Lining the bottom of the femur and the top of the tibia is a smooth, white cartilage known as "articular cartilage". This cartilage gives the bones a smooth surface where they "articulate", or meet to form a joint. Without articular cartilage, bones would degenerate due to friction as they move through their natural range of motion.
The knee is able to bear the bulk of the body's weight with the help of two additional pieces of cartilage, known as the menisci. These fibrous pieces of cartilage act as shock absorbers during movement and cushion the bones when under stress. Additionally, the menisci help stabilize the knee by distributing the weight across the joint.
One of the most common conditions affecting the knee is tearing the meniscus. If either menisci becomes torn, the patient may experience significant pain and immobility. Symptoms of a meniscal tear include:
- Knee pain
- Limited range of motion
- Joint Stiffness
- Sensitivity and swelling
Meniscal tears can present themselves similarly to other knee conditions, such as ligament injuries, so it is important to receive a diagnosis from a trusted orthopaedic surgeon. Sports Medicine Oregon, with seven surgeons at three offices in the Portland area, can help provide consultation for knee pain and suggest a treatment option that works for the patient's unique needs.
Knee Ligaments: Collateral and Cruciate Ligaments
Four ligaments attach to the knee and also help to stabilize the joint. These ligaments prevent the knee from moving beyond its natural range of motion. Two ligaments line the sides of the knee (collateral ligaments), while the other two ligaments attach to the insides of the knee (cruciate ligaments). The collateral ligaments, known individually as the medial collateral ligament and the lateral collateral ligament, prevent the tibia from moving side-to-side, while the cruciate ligaments, known as the anterior cruciate ligament and the posterior cruciate ligament, cross to form an X and prevent the knee from swinging beyond its natural hinge-like range of motion.
Knee Ligament Injuries
Damage to the ligaments can cause significant pain and immobility in patients. Ligament tears are common sports injuries, and often occur when the foot is planted while attempting to pivot or turn improperly. Many patients will report hearing a loud "popping" sound at the time of injury, and may also see swelling follow.
Symptoms of a torn knee ligament include:
- Knee pain
- Joint stiffness
- Sensitivity and swelling
- Loud "pop" at the time of injury
- Sensation that the knee has "given out" from underneath the patient
Knee ligaments do not typically heal on their own, as they receive very little blood supply. Whenever ligament tears are severe enough to warrant surgery, oftentimes the patients' torn ligament will be reconstructed using grafts from healthy ligaments.
Knee Pain Treatment in Portland, OR
Sports Medicine Oregon employs a number of Board-certified orthopaedic surgeons specializing in sports medicine and knee pain treatment. As part of the team of physicians overseeing the Portland Timbers, Sports Medicine Oregon is one of the best choices for knee pain treatment.
Learn more about the team of highly trained surgeons at Sports Medicine Oregon, or schedule an appointment to discuss treatment options for knee problems.