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The knee is a complex joint made up of different structures - bones, tendons, ligaments, and muscles. They all work together to maintain the knee’s normal function and provide stability to the knee during movement.

Having a well-functioning healthy knee is essential for our mobility and ability to participate in various activities. Understanding the anatomy of the knee enhances your ability to discuss and choose the right treatment procedure for knee problems with your doctor.

Bones of the Knee

The knee is a hinge joint made up of two bones, the thighbone (femur) and shinbone (tibia). There are two round knobs at the end of the femur called femoral condyles that articulate with the flat surface of the tibia called the tibial plateau. The tibial plateau on the inside of the leg is called the medial tibial plateau and on the outside of the leg, the lateral tibial plateau.

The two femoral condyles form a groove on the front (anterior) side of the knee called the patellofemoral groove. A small bone called the patella sits in this groove and forms the kneecap. It acts as a shield and protects the knee joint from direct trauma.

A fourth bone called the fibula is the other bone of the lower leg. This forms a small joint with the tibia. This joint has very little movement and is not considered a part of the main joint of the knee.

Articular Cartilage and Menisci of the Knee 

Movement of the bones causes friction between the articulating surfaces. To reduce this friction, all articulating surfaces involved in the movement are covered with a white, shiny, slippery layer called articular cartilage. The articulating surface of the femoral condyles, tibial plateaus and the back of the patella are covered with this cartilage. The cartilage provides a smooth surface that facilitates easy movement.

To further reduce friction between the articulating surfaces of the bones, the knee joint is lined by a synovial membrane that produces a thick clear fluid called synovial fluid. This fluid lubricates and nourishes the cartilage and bones inside the joint capsule. 

Within the knee joint, between the femur and tibia, are two C-shaped cartilaginous structures called menisci. Menisci function to provide stability to the knee by spreading the weight of the upper body across the whole surface of the tibial plateau. The menisci help in load-bearing i.e. it prevents the weight from concentrating onto a small area, which could damage the articular cartilage. The menisci also act as a cushion between the femur and tibia by absorbing the shock produced by activities such as walking, running and jumping. 

Ligaments of the Knee 

Ligaments are tough bands of tissue that connect one bone to another bone. The ligaments of the knee stabilize the knee joint. There are two important groups of ligaments that hold the bones of the knee joint together, collateral and cruciate ligaments.

Collateral ligaments are present on either side of the knee. They prevent the knee from moving too far during side to side motion. The collateral ligament on the inside is called the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and the collateral ligament on the outside is called the lateral collateral ligament (LCL).

Cruciate ligaments, present inside the knee joint, control the back-and-forth motion of the knee. The cruciate ligament in the front of the knee is called anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and the cruciate ligament in the back of the knee is called posterior cruciate ligament (PCL).

Muscles of the Knee 

There are two major muscles in the knee - the quadriceps and the hamstrings, which enable movement of the knee joint. The quadriceps muscles are located in front of the thigh. When the quadriceps muscles contract, the knee straightens. The hamstrings are located at the back of the thigh. When the hamstring muscles contract, the knee bends.

Tendons of the Knee 

A tendon is a tissue that attaches a muscle to a bone. The quadriceps muscles of the knee meet just above the patella and attach to it through a tendon called the quadriceps tendon. The patella further attaches to the tibia through a tendon called the patella tendon. The quadriceps muscle, quadriceps tendon, and patellar tendon all work together to straighten the knee. Similarly, the hamstring muscles at the back of the leg are attached to the knee joint with the hamstring tendon.

Knee Injury

Knee Injury

Pain, swelling, and stiffness are the common symptoms of any damage or injury to the knee. If care is not taken during the initial phases of injury, it may lead to joint damage, which may end up destroying your knee.

Knee Ligament Injuries

Knee Ligament Injuries

Knee problems may arise if any of these structures get injured by overuse or suddenly during sports activities. Pain, swelling, and stiffness are the common symptoms of any damage or injury to the knee.

ACL Injuries

ACL Injuries

There are three bones that make up the knee joint – the femur or thigh bone, the tibia or shin bone, and the kneecap or patella. There are two cruciate ligaments inside the knee joint that form an X and control the backward and forward motion of the knee, as well as rotation.

Cartilage Injuries

Cartilage Injuries

Knee problems may arise if any of these structures get injured by overuse or suddenly during sports activities. Pain, swelling, and stiffness are the common symptoms of any damage or injury to the knee.

Loose Bodies in the Knee

Loose Bodies in the Knee

Loose bodies are fragments of detached cartilage or bone inside the knee joint. These fragments may be free floating (unstable) or may be trapped (stable) within the joint. Depending on the severity, you may have one or more loose bodies in your knee joint.

Chondromalacia Patella

Chondromalacia Patella

Chondromalacia patella is a common condition characterized by softening, weakening and damage of the cartilage. The condition is most often seen in young athletes and older adults who have arthritis of the knee. It especially occurs in women.

Jumper's Knee

Jumper's Knee

Jumper's knee, also known as patellar tendinitis, is inflammation of the patellar tendon that connects your kneecap (patella) to your shinbone. This tendon helps in the extension of the lower leg.

Kneecap Bursitis

Kneecap Bursitis

Bursitis refers to the inflammation and swelling of the bursa. Inflammation of the bursa in front of the kneecap (patella) is known as kneecap bursitis or prepatellar bursitis.

Baker's Cyst

Baker's Cyst

The knee consists of a fluid called synovial fluid, which reduces the friction between the bones of the knee joint while you move your leg. Sometimes this fluid is produced in excess, resulting in its accumulation in the back of your knee.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome

Iliotibial Band Syndrome

An iliotibial band is a tough group of fibers that runs from the iliac crest of the hip along the outside of the thigh, till the outer side of the shinbone, just below the knee joint. Its function is to coordinate with the thigh muscles and provide stability to the knee joint.

Lateral Patellar Compression Syndrome

Lateral Patellar Compression Syndrome

Lateral patellar compression syndrome refers to pain under and around your kneecap. It is a common complaint among runners, jumpers and other athletes such as skiers, cyclists, and soccer players.

Medial Gastrocnemius Strain

Medial Gastrocnemius Strain

A medial gastrocnemius strain (MGS), also sometimes called "tennis leg", is an injury to the calf muscle in the back of the leg. It occurs when the calf muscle is stretched too far resulting in a partial or total tear or rupture within the muscle.

Articular Cartilage Injury

Articular Cartilage Injury

Articular or hyaline cartilage is the tissue lining the surface of the two bones in the knee joint. Cartilage helps the bones move smoothly against each other and can withstand the weight of the body during activities such as running and jumping.

Osteochondritis Dissecans of the Knee

Osteochondritis Dissecans of the Knee

Osteochondritis dissecans is a joint condition in which a piece of cartilage, along with a thin layer of the bone separates from the end of the bone because of inadequate blood supply. The separated fragments are sometimes called "joint mice".

Knee Angular Deformities

Knee Angular Deformities

Angular deformities of the knee are variations in the normal growth pattern during early childhood and are common during childhood.

Bowed Legs

Bowed Legs

Bowed leg is a bony deformity resulting in outward curvature of one or both knees of the lower legs. It is commonly seen in toddlers and overweight adolescents.

Fractures of the Tibia

Fractures of the Tibia

The lower leg is made up of two long bones called the tibia and fibula that extend between the knee and ankle. The tibia or shinbone is the larger of the two bones. It bears most of the body’s weight and helps form the ankle joint and knee joint.

Tibial Eminence Fracture

Tibial Eminence Fracture

The tibia or shin bone is a major bone of the leg which connects the knee to the ankle. A fracture or break in the upper part of the tibia is known as a proximal tibial fracture and commonly occurs just below the knee joint.

Knee Arthroscopy

Knee Arthroscopy

Knee arthroscopy is a common surgical procedure performed using an arthroscope, a viewing instrument, to diagnose or treat a knee problem. It is a relatively safe procedure and you will usually be discharged from the hospital on the same day of surgery.

ACL Reconstruction

ACL Reconstruction

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the major stabilizing ligaments in the knee. It is a strong rope-like structure located in the center of the knee, running from the femur to the tibia. When this ligament tears, unfortunately, it does not heal on its own, and often leads to the feeling of instability in the knee.

Multiligament Knee Reconstruction

Multiligament Knee Reconstruction

Multiligament knee reconstruction is a surgical procedure to repair or replace two or more damaged ligaments of the knee joint. The surgery can be performed using minimally invasive techniques.

Cartilage Restoration/Transplantation

Cartilage Restoration/Transplantation

Cartilage replacement helps relieve pain, restore normal function, and can delay or prevent the onset of arthritis. The goal of the cartilage replacement procedures is to stimulate the growth of new hyaline cartilage.

Matrix Induced Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation (MACI)

Matrix Induced Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation (MACI)

Matrix-Induced autologous chondrocyte implantation is an innovative, FDA-approved cartilage restoration procedure that uses your own cells to repair cartilage defects in your knee. It can alleviate knee pain, help you regain function and may even delay or prevent arthritis.

Meniscal Transplantation

Meniscal Transplantation

Meniscal transplantation is a surgical procedure to replace the damaged meniscus of the knee with healthy cartilage.

PCL Reconstruction

PCL Reconstruction

The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), one of four major ligaments of the knee, is situated at the back of the knee. It connects the thighbone (femur) to the shinbone (tibia). The PCL limits the backward motion of the shinbone.

MCL Reconstruction

MCL Reconstruction

The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is one of four major ligaments of the knee that connects the femur (thighbone) to the tibia (shinbone). It is present on the inside of the knee joint and helps stabilize the knee.

Posterolateral Corner Reconstruction

Posterolateral Corner Reconstruction

Posterolateral corner injury is damage or injury to the structures of the posterolateral corner. The structures of the posterolateral corner include the lateral collateral ligament, the popliteus tendon, and the popliteo-fibular ligament. Injuries to the posterolateral corner most often occur with athletic trauma, motor-vehicle accidents, and falls.

Patellar Tendon Repair

Patellar Tendon Repair

Patella tendon rupture is the rupture of the tendon that connects the patella (kneecap) to the top portion of the tibia (shinbone). The patellar tendon works together with the quadriceps muscle and the quadriceps tendon to allow your knee to straighten out.

Quadriceps Tendon Repair

Quadriceps Tendon Repair

Quadriceps tendon is a thick tissue located at the top of the kneecap. The quadriceps tendon works together with the quadriceps muscles to allow us to straighten our leg. The quadriceps muscles are the muscles located in front of the thigh.

Patellofemoral Knee Replacement

Patellofemoral Knee Replacement

Traditionally, arthritis in only one compartment of the knee is treated by partial knee replacement surgery. Patellofemoral knee replacement is a minimally invasive surgical option performed in the patellofemoral compartment only, preserving the knee parts not damaged by arthritis as well as the stabilizing anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments (ACL and PCL).

High Tibial Osteotomy

High Tibial Osteotomy

High tibial osteotomy is a surgical procedure performed to relieve pressure on the damaged site of an arthritic knee joint. It is usually performed in arthritic conditions affecting only one side of your knee and the aim is to take pressure off the damaged area and shift it to the other side of your knee with healthy cartilage.

Tibial Tubercle Osteotomy

Tibial Tubercle Osteotomy

Tibial tubercle osteotomy is a surgical procedure that is performed along with other procedures to treat patellar instability, patellofemoral pain, and osteoarthritis. The tibial tubercle transfer technique involves realignment of the tibial tubercle (a bump in the front of the shinbone) such that the kneecap (patella) traverses in the center of the femoral groove.

Meniscal Surgery

Meniscal Surgery

A meniscus tear is the commonest knee injury in athletes, especially those involved in contact sports. A sudden bend or twist in your knee can cause the meniscus to tear. This is a traumatic meniscal tear. The elderly are more prone to degenerative meniscal tears as the cartilage wears out and weakens with age.

Subchondroplasty

Subchondroplasty

Subchondroplasty is a minimally invasive procedure that is performed to specifically repair chronic BMLs by filling them with a bone substitute material. The bone substitute is then slowly resorbed and replaced with healthy bone, repairing the bone defect.

Pharmacological Interventions for Knee Injuries

Pharmacological Interventions for Knee Injuries

Pharmacological interventions include medicinal preparations such as pain-relieving capsules or injections.

Physical Therapy for Knee

Physical Therapy for Knee

Physical therapy is an exercise program that helps you to improve movement, relieve pain, encourage blood flow for faster healing, and restore your physical function and fitness level. It can be prescribed as an individual treatment program or combined with other treatments.

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