The knee is the largest and most complex joint in the body–it is made up of four bones, connected by muscles, ligaments, and tendons. The femur is the large bone in the thigh, and the tibia is the large shin bone. The fibula is the smaller shin bone, located next to the tibia. The patella, also known as the kneecap, is the small bone in front of the knee. It slides up and down in a groove in the femur (the femoral groove) as the knee bends and straightens.
Not only is the knee the largest joint in the body, but it also holds almost the entire human body weight, making it susceptible to injuries. A variety of factors can cause knee pain and knee injury, which include frequent heavy lifting, body weight, sports, and/or older age.
The most common knee conditions are:
- Knee Arthritis
- ACL Injury
- Meniscal Tear
The knee is one of the most common joints affected by osteoarthritis. The word arthritis means inflammation (swelling) of a joint. Osteoarthritis, also known as the “wear and tear” arthritis, is the most common type of arthritis.
Osteoarthritis affects the articular cartilage in the knee. Articular cartilage is the smooth coating that covers the surface of the bones inside the knee. Articular cartilage also cushions and helps lubricate the joint surfaces. In osteoarthritis, the articular cartilage begins to degrade. Over time, the articular cartilage can thin or form cracks. Pieces of cartilage may come loose and float inside the knee, further irritating the joint. After a long period of time, the cartilage can become completely “worn away,” and the bones begin to rub together.
Depending on the location and severity of knee arthritis, there are different surgical options available for knee replacement.
Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injuries
Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries are among the most common knee injuries. Although prevalent in athletes, ACL injuries can also occur in non-athletes. This injury can be very painful and can cause significant loss of knee function, therefore requiring medical attention.
When the ACL is injured, you may feel a “pop,” and your knee may give out from under you. The knee usually swells significantly the day of the injury, and it may feel unstable when trying to walk on it. ACL injuries are often painful, due to associated bone bruises and meniscus tears. Full range of motion may be lost due to swelling, pain, and meniscus tears.
Although a meniscus tear is especially common in athletes, anyone can experience such an injury. A meniscus tear is one of the most frequently occurring cartilage injuries of the knee that can be quite painful and debilitating.
Meniscal injuries are often associated with a ligament tear in the knee. When a person injures one of the main supporting ligaments of the knee, the knee can become unstable, increasing the chance of a meniscus tear.
If you are experiencing pain or discomfort in your knee, contact Summit Orthopaedics at (503) 850-9940 to schedule an appointment. Our orthopedic surgeons are experts in their field in both surgical and non-surgical interventions. They provide thorough and accurate diagnoses and recommend the best treatment for your condition to assure maximal recovery.