The Anatomy & Function Of The Knee Joint
By Jayton Miller
Usually not thought of until something is wrong with them, knees are some of the most problematic joints of the body. Understanding the structure and function of the knees along with how to properly take care of them could literally save your life, or at least the quality of it. Let's take a look at this delicate joint in detail...
- Functions Of The Knee Joint
- Structure Of The Knee Joint
- Common Defects Of The Knee Joint
- Helpful Ways To Support Healthy Knees
Function Of The Knee Joint:
Also known as the tibiofemoral joint, the knee is the largest and one of the most complex joints in the human body. The knee joins together the upper half of the leg (the thigh / femur) and the lower half of the leg (the tibia and fibula).
The purpose of the knee joint is to allow the lower half of the leg to move relative to the upper half of the leg while maintaining the weight of the body. Without a properly formed knee joint humans would not be able to run, squat, walk, or stand the way that we are currently able to. If you have ever had any knee problems then you know this to be the case.
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Structure Of The Knee Joint:
The knee is known as a synovial joint, meaning that the movement of the joint is lubricated by synovial fluid secreted by a membrane that lines the joint cavity. The knee joint is the most complex joint in the body made up of three individual joints that share the same joint cavity. These three joints include:
- The joint between the kneecap (patella) and the lower part of the thigh bone (the femur). This joint is known as a plane joint meaning that it allows one bone to slide over another bone (this is why your knee cap can move around).
- Joints on either side of the bulbous parts of the end of the femur (the femoral condyles) and the top of the shin bone (the tibia). Both of these joints are hinge joints (think of them similar to the way hinges on a door work)
Because of the way the bottom end of the femur and the top end of the tibia are shaped, they do not fit well together inside of the joint. However, the knee joint is still a relatively stable joint, relying on the surrounding muscle and ligaments that surround it to keep it stable. This is one reason that the knee is very susceptible to injury.
Outside of the joints the main parts of the knee joint are many and include:
- Patella - knee cap
- Synovial Membranes
- Patellar Ligament
- Lateral Meniscus
- Medial Meniscus
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament
- Posterior Cruciate Ligament
- Transverse Ligament
- Tibial Collateral Ligament
Common Defects With The Knee Joint:
General wear and tear on the knee joints is common, especially if you live a rather active lifestyle. The most common reasons for knee pain are injuries, repeated stress on the knees, and aging. Some of the more common issues with knees are:
- Ligament strain or tears
- Cartilage tears
Note - Osgood Schlatter Disease, also known as growing pains, is another common cause of knee pain mostly in adolescents. This type of knee pain is common and can easily be treated with time and rest.*
Helpful Ways To Support Healthy Knees:
If you want to live a high quality life as you age, then taking care of your knees is going to be essential. Some of the best ways that you can begin to support optimal knee health are:
- Strengthen your leg muscles, especially the ones that surround your knee.
- Work on full range of motion for your knees. Many people speak about becoming more flexible, but this isn't exactly what you want to do. Instead, you want to make sure that you develop and continue to use the full range of motion your knees are capable of having.
- Lose weight. If you are overweight then there is going to be added stress placed on your knees by this thing we call gravity. Get rid of the extra weight and keep it off to maintain healthy knees.
- Stay active. If you don't use it you lose it, and for your knees if you aren't doing something to help keep them healthy on a daily basis then they are going to slowly grow weaker over time leading to higher chances for injury. Even doing something as simple as walking 5-10K steps daily will work wonders for keeping your knees healthy.
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The knee joint is one of the most fascinating structural parts of the human body. From having three joints in one to having a bone that floats over the joint. If you want to keep this delicate part of your body healthy, then make sure to follow the tips in this article, as well as the tips we have inside of UMZU fit!
- Abrahams, Peter. The Human Body: An Essential Guide To How The Body Works. Amber Books Ltd, 2021.