Basic Anatomy of the Knee
The knee is a hinge joint between the femur (thighbone) and the tibia (shinbone). The joint is protected in front by the patella (knee cap). Cartilage on the ends of each bone and underneath the knee cap cushions the joint. Ligaments run along the sides and front of the knee connecting the shinbone to the thighbone at the center of the knee. These components of your knee, along with the muscles of your leg, work together to manage the stress your knee receives as you walk, run and jump.
Each bone end is covered with a layer of cartilage that absorbs shock and protects the knee. Over time, the cartilage that cushions the joint can deteriorate, causing pain and stiffness when bones rub directly against each other. Knee pain originally may be only felt when a person is bending or putting pressure on the knee (such as while walking or going up and down stairs). Eventually the pain may become more frequent or nearly constant. Physical therapy, pain relieving medications or walking aids may work temporarily, but the only long-term solution in many cases is surgery. Cartilage restoration offers a new treatment option for people who are looking for an alternative to traditional surgical strategies or who are too young to undergo artificial knee replacement surgery.
There are two groups of muscles involved in the knee, including the quadriceps muscles (located on the front of the thighs), which straighten the legs, and the hamstring muscles (located on the back of the thighs), which bend the leg at the knee.
Tendons are tough cords of tissue that connect muscles to bones. Ligaments are elastic bands of tissue that connect bone to bone. Some ligaments on the knee provide stability and protection of the joints, while other ligaments limit forward and backward movement of the tibia (shinbone).
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