Anatomy of the Knee

The knee is one of the body’s largest and most complex joints.  It supports the weight of the body during standing, and much more while running or walking.  The knee connects the femur to the tibia and fibula bones of the lower leg as well as to the patella, or knee cap.

Contact us if you are experiencing any kind of knee pain or discomfort.

Anatomy of the Knee – Front

The knee is a strong hinged joint that allows for flexion, extension, and a slight rotation of the lower leg.  It is comprised of bones, muscles, soft tissues (ligaments, tendons, and cartilage), bursae, nerves, and blood vessels.  All of these – especially the ligaments and bursae – work together to provide the stability and the propulsion necessary for normal knee function.

The end of the femur (thighbone) and the top of the tibia (shinbone) meet at the knee to form the knee joint.  The knee joint is a synovial joint, enclosed by a ligament capsule that contains synovium, a fluid that lubricates the joint.  The patella (kneecap) is at the front of the knee.

Bones

The end of the femur (thighbone) and the top of the tibia (shinbone) meet at the knee to form the knee joint.  The knee joint is a synovial joint, enclosed by a ligament capsule that contains synovium, a fluid that lubricates the joint.  The patella (kneecap) is at the front of the knee.

Muscles

If you believe you have damaged your knee and are experiencing discomfort, we can help!

Anatomy of the Knee – Side

Attached to the quadriceps tendon, the quadriceps muscles in the front of the thigh allow the knee joint to straighten when they contract.  The hamstring muscles in the back of the knee and thigh allow the knee to bend when they contract.

Soft Tissues

Ligaments attach bones to bones.  Tendons attach muscle to bones.  Ligaments and tendons are both made of collagen fibers that are bundled together.  The bundles come in various sizes and thicknesses to provide different degrees of strength.  Articular cartilage covers the ends of bones at any joint.  It absorbs shock and allows joint surfaces to safely move against each other, making motion easier.

Strong, tight ligaments are the most important structures for stabilizing and strengthening the knee joint.  Without them, the joint would be too loose.  The medial collateral ligament (MCL) and the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) are located on the sides of the knee joint.  They keep the knee from moving too far from side-to-side.  The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) are between the femur and the tibia.  They keep the knee from moving too far from front-to-back.  Two types of ligaments called menisci are between the femur and the tibia.  They disburse the force from the body’s weight over a larger area, and they aid the ligaments with knee stability.

The patellar tendon is the largest tendon around the knee.  It connects the patella to the tibia, covering the patella, and attaching to the quadriceps muscles at the front of the thigh.  The tendons on the hamstring muscles also attach to the knee joint.

Articular cartilage covers the ends of the femur, the back of the patella, and the top of the tibia.

Bursae

Bursae are located throughout the body.  A bursa is a small sac of lubricating fluid that is found between two moving surfaces.   The knee joint has fourteen bursae that provide padding that allows tendons to move freely.

Nerves and Blood Vessels

The popliteal nerve is the most important nerve around the knee.  At the back of the knee, it goes to the lower leg and foot to allow for muscle control and sensation.  The tibial nerve and the peroneal nerve are formed above the knee where the popliteal nerve splits.  The tibial nerve goes down the back of the leg, and the peroneal nerve goes around the outside of the knee, down the front of the leg to the foot.

The popliteal artery sends blood to the leg and foot.  The popliteal vein takes blood back to the heart.  Both veins travel with the popliteal nerve.

If you are feeling any type of knee pain or discomfort, please schedule a consultation at Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute Beaches.  One of our highly-skilled surgeons will be happy to discuss your pain, your lifestyle, and the steps necessary to ensure that you are back to your best self.  Contact us today at 904-241-1204 or online at www.joibeaches.com!

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