Knee Surgery, Orthopedic Surgery

July 29, 2016

Muscles and Bones: The Makeup of Your Knee Joint Pain


Your knee joint is made up of several parts, including bones, tendons, ligaments, and muscles. Sustaining an injury or experiencing wear and tear in these parts can lead to sore knee joints.

Damage or deterioration that affects one or more parts of your knee joint can result in chronic knee pain and a limited range of motion. By learning the muscles and bones that make up your knee and how they work together, you can better identify the cause of your knee bone pain as well as what types of knee pain treatment that could improve your quality of life.

Knee Bones
Your knee joint is made up of three bones. Your femur, or thigh bone, is in the upper part of your leg, while the tibia, or shin bone, is in the front of your lower leg. Your patella, or kneecap, is the thick bone in the front of your knee. Cartilage covers the ends of your knee bones and keeps them from rubbing together when they move. There is also connective tissue between your femur and tibia bones, called the lateral meniscus and the medial meniscus, that help distribute weight throughout your knee joint.

There are both minor and serious problems that can lead to persistent knee bone pain:

  • Fractures: Fractures to one or more knee bones can occur from trauma, such as falling. Treatment depends on how severe the knee bone pain is and how far apart the fractured pieces are from each other.
  • Meniscal tears: Tears in your meniscus can occur from sudden turns or other movements that put too much weight on your knee at once. Symptoms include pain, stiffness and trouble straightening your knee. You might need surgery to repair your meniscus if nonsurgical treatment methods do not work and pain continues.
  • Osteoarthritis: This chronic condition develops as the cartilage in your knee joint deteriorates with age. When knee cartilage wears away, your knee bones can rub together as you move, leading to damage and pain. There are no cures for osteoarthritis, but procedures such as arthroscopy or knee replacement can provide relief and help restore flexibility.

Knee Muscles
Your knee contains two muscle groups, known as the hamstrings and quadriceps. Your hamstring muscles are in the back of your thigh, while your quadricep muscles are in the front of your thigh. Hamstring muscles help you bend your knee, and quadricep muscles help you straighten it out. Muscle strain can be caused by sudden movements, trauma or repetitive motions. These strains can range from mild damage from stretching too far to more serious damage when muscle fibers tear. Muscle strain in the knee is usually treated with nonsurgical methods, such as rest and ice, but surgery might be needed to repair serious tears.

Knee Ligaments and Tendons
Your knee has a number of tendons and ligaments that provide support to the joint capsule that holds your knee bones in place. The quadriceps tendon joins your quadriceps and patella. The medial collateral ligament (MCL) stabilizes the inner area of your knee, while the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) keeps the outer part stable. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) stops your tibia from moving forward too far, while the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) stops your knee from shifting back too far. Any problems with these ligaments and tendons can result in sore knee joints and limited range of motion:

  • Ligament tears: Tears to one or more ligaments in the knee can be partial or full. ACL tears are the most common type of ligament tear. These types of injuries typically cause pain, swelling, stiffness and a loss of stability. While minor tears might heal on their own with nonsurgical treatment, major tears require surgery to restore stability in the knee joint.
  • Tendonitis: Tendonitis occurs when the quadriceps tendon becomes inflamed due to overuse. Pain around the patella that gradually gets worse is the most common symptom of this condition. Tendonitis is usually treated with physical therapy and medication, but surgery might be required if these treatments are ineffective.

If you have been experiencing persistent knee joint pain, contact Arkansas Surgical Hospital at (877) 918-7020 for an appointment with one of our renowned orthopedic surgeons to learn more about your treatment options.

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