To understand the importance of the knee and knee joint better, let’s take a quick look at its structure and various components. Read Now!
Anatomy of the Knee: The largest and one of the most complex joints in the human body, the knee provides stability and flexibility to perform different activities. It acts like a hinge allowing free movement of the lower leg while rotating and moving from side to side. To understand the importance of the knee and knee joint better, let’s take a quick look at its structure and various components:
a) Bones of the Knee: The three bones that make up the knee joint are – the tibia, femur, and patella. Together, these bones support the body and allow smooth movement by transferring forces between the hip and foot.
b) Knee Joint Type: The knee is essentially a hinge joint, which means it can bend, straighten, and twist simultaneously. Helping it perform these functions are two joints, the tibiofemoral joint connecting the thigh and shin bones and the patellofemoral joint comprising the knee cap and thigh bone.
c) Cartilage: The two types of cartilages present in the knee include articular cartilage and meniscus. While the former lines the joint, the latter provides a cushion between the femur and tibia. Additionally, these cartilages act as shock absorbers and reduce friction by allowing the bones of the knees to move smoothly.
d) Ligaments: Made of collagen, ligaments are connective tissues linking bone to bone. In the case of the knee cap, they act as stabilising structures by preventing excessive movement. The knee’s four ligaments are an anterior cruciate ligament, posterior cruciate ligament, medial collateral ligament, and lateral collateral ligament.
e) Muscles: Apart from initiating movement of the knee cap, knee muscles also provide knee support and control the motion of the hip and foot. The three muscles controlling the movement of the knee include:
- Quadriceps on the front of the thigh which straightens the knee
- Hamstrings on the back of the thigh which bend the knee
- Glutes on the buttocks control the position of the knee and regulate pressure through the joint
f) Synovial Fluid: The knee is a synovial joint and has a joint capsule like a sac surrounding it. This capsule or sac contains synovial fluid, which helps lubricate the joint, allowing it to move smoothly and painlessly.
g) Sports injuries: The knee is a complex joint that is susceptible to many injuries, very often amongst athletes. It can be injured in the form of fractures, sprains, tears, dislocations due to improper technique or incorrect use of sports equipment.
h) Age-Related Changes: Age has a profound effect on the knees resulting in knee injury and degenerative medical conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. This type of arthritis is common in the age group of 50 and older and occurs due to the wear and tear of the cartilages in the knee.
Strengthening the Knee The knees are like a sophisticated and complex machine that depends on the smooth functioning of various parts like ligaments, tendons and cartilage. Like any machine, they require maintenance and upkeep. You can prevent knee pain by regularly stretching and strengthening the structures and muscles that support your knees.