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Knee Anatomy

The knee is a complex joint made up of different structures - bones, tendons, ligaments, and muscles. They all work together to maintain the knee’s normal function and provide stability to the knee during movement.

Having a well-functioning healthy knee is essential for our mobility and ability to participate in various activities. Understanding the anatomy of the knee enhances your ability to discuss and choose the right treatment procedure for knee problems with your doctor.

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Knee Conditions

  • ACL TearsACL Tears

    The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the major ligaments of the knee. It is located in the middle of the knee and runs from the femur (thighbone) to the tibia (shinbone). The ACL prevents the tibia from sliding out in front of the femur. Together with the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), it provides rotational stability to the knee.

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  • Anterior Knee PainAnterior Knee Pain

    Anterior knee pain is characterized by chronic pain over the front and center of the knee joint. It is common in athletes, active adolescents (especially girls) and overweight individuals. Anterior knee pain refers to various conditions, which include runner's knee or patellar tendinitis, and chondromalacia of the patella. There is an inter-individual variation in the duration and presentation of pain. 

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  • Fractures of the TibiaFractures of the Tibia

    The lower leg is made up of two long bones called the tibia and fibula that extend between the knee and ankle. The tibia or shinbone is the larger of the two bones. It bears most of the body’s weight and helps form the ankle joint and knee joint.

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  • Goosefoot Bursitis of the KneeGoosefoot Bursitis of the Knee

    A bursa is a small fluid-filled sac found between soft tissues and bones. It lubricates and acts as a cushion, decreasing the friction between bones when they move. Bursitis refers to the inflammation and swelling of the bursa. Goosefoot bursitis or pes anserine bursitis is the inflammation of the bursa present between the tendons of the hamstring muscle and the tibia (shinbone) on the inner side of the knee.

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  • Jumper's KneeJumper's Knee

    Jumper’s knee, also known as patellar tendinitis, is inflammation of the patellar tendon that connects your kneecap (patella) to your shinbone. This tendon helps in the extension of the lower leg.

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  • Knee ArthritisKnee Arthritis

    The joint surface is covered by a smooth articular surface that allows pain-free movement in the joint. Arthritis is a general term covering numerous conditions where the joint surface or cartilage wears out. This surface can wear out for several reasons; often the definite cause is not known. Arthritis often affects the knee joint. When the articular cartilage wears out, the bone ends rub on one another and cause pain. The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis. It occurs with aging and use.

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  • Knee FractureKnee Fracture

    A fracture is a condition in which there is a break in the continuity of the bone.  In younger individuals, these fractures are caused by high energy injuries, as from a motor vehicle accident. In older people, the most common cause is a weak and fragile bone.

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  • Knee InfectionKnee Infection

    Knee infection is a serious medical condition that needs immediate treatment. Infection may occur followed by a knee replacement surgery or trauma and is usually caused by bacteria. Infection may spread to the space of the knee joint or deep layers of your knee causing serious complications.

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  • Knee InjuryKnee Injury

    Pain, swelling, and stiffness are the common symptoms of any damage or injury to the knee. If care is not taken during the initial phases of injury, it may lead to joint damage, which may end up destroying your knee. 

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  • Knee OsteoarthritisKnee Osteoarthritis

    Osteoarthritis also called degenerative joint disease, is the most common form of arthritis. It occurs most often in older people. This disease affects the tissue covering the ends of bones in a joint (cartilage).In a person with osteoarthritis, the cartilage becomes damaged and worn out causing pain, swelling, stiffness and restricted movement in the affected joint. This condition most commonly affects the joints in the hips, knees, hands, and spine. Rarely, the disease may affect the shoulders, wrists, and feet.

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  • Knee PainKnee Pain

    Knee pain is a common condition affecting individuals of various age groups. It not only affects movement but also impacts your quality of life. An injury or disease of the knee joint or any structure surrounding the knee can result in knee pain. A precise diagnosis of the underlying cause is important to develop an appropriate treatment plan.

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  • Knee SprainKnee Sprain

    Knee sprain is a common injury that occurs from overstretching of the ligaments that support the knee joint. A knee sprain occurs when the knee ligaments are twisted or turned beyond its normal range, causing the ligaments to tear.

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  • Kneecap BursitisKneecap Bursitis

    A bursa is a small fluid-filled sac found between soft tissues and bones. It lubricates and acts as a cushion to decrease friction between bones when they move. 

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  • Ligament InjuriesLigament Injuries

    The knee is a hinge joint made up of two bones, the thighbone (femur) and shinbone (tibia). Ligaments are tough bands of tissue that connect one bone to another bone. The ligaments of the knee stabilize the knee joint.

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  • MCL TearsMCL Tears

    The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is the ligament located on the inner part of the knee joint. It runs from the femur (thighbone) to the top of the tibia (shinbone) and helps in stabilizing the knee. 

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  • Meniscal InjuriesMeniscal Injuries

    Meniscal tears are among the commonest injuries to the knee joint. It can occur at any age but are more common in athletes involved in contact sports. The meniscus has no direct blood supply and for that reason, when there is an injury to the meniscus, healing is difficult.

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  • Meniscal TearsMeniscal Tears

    The two wedge-shaped cartilage pieces present between the thighbone and the shinbone are called meniscus. They stabilize the knee joint and act as shock absorbers.

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  • Multiligament InstabilityMultiligament Instability

    The knee is a complex joint of the body that is vital for movement. The four major ligaments of the knee are anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), medial collateral ligament (MCL) and lateral collateral ligament (LCL). They play an important role in maintaining the stability of the knee. A multiligament injury is a tear in one or more ligaments of the knee, which affects the knee stability.

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  • Multiligament Knee InjuriesMultiligament Knee Injuries

    Injury to more than one knee ligament is called a multiligament knee injury and may occur during sports or other physical activities.

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  • Osteonecrosis of the KneeOsteonecrosis of the Knee

    Osteonecrosis is a condition in which the death of a section of bone occurs because of lack of blood supply to it. It is one of the most common causes of knee pain in older women. Women over 60 years of age are commonly affected, three times more often than men. 

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  • Patella FracturePatella Fracture

    The kneecap or patella forms a part of the knee joint. It is present at the front of the knee, protecting the knee and providing attachment to various muscle groups of the thigh and leg. The undersurface of the kneecap and the lower end of the femur are coated with articular cartilage, which helps in smooth movement of the knee joint. A fracture in the kneecap is rare but common in adult males. 

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  • Patellar Dislocation/Patellofemoral DislocationPatellar Dislocation/Patellofemoral Dislocation

    Patellar dislocation occurs when the patella moves out of the patellofemoral groove, (trochlea) onto the bony head of the femur. If the kneecap partially comes out of the groove, it is called subluxation; if the kneecap completely comes out, it is called dislocation (luxation). 

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  • Patellar InstabilityPatellar Instability

    Any damage to the supporting ligaments may cause the patella to slip out of the groove either partially (subluxation) or completely (dislocation). This misalignment can damage the underlying soft structures such as muscles and ligaments that hold the kneecap in place. Once damaged, these soft structures are unable to keep the patella (kneecap) in position. Repeated subluxation or dislocation makes the knee unstable. This condition is called knee instability. Patellar (kneecap) instability results from one or more complete or partial dislocations (subluxations). 

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  • Patellar TendinitisPatellar Tendinitis

    Patellar tendinitis, also known as "jumper's knee", is an inflammation of the patellar tendon that connects your kneecap (patella) to your shinbone. This tendon helps in extension of the lower leg.

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  • PCL InjuriesPCL Injuries

    Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), one of the four major ligaments of the knee, is situated at the back of the knee. It connects the thighbone (femur) to the shinbone (tibia). The PCL limits the backward motion of the shinbone.

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  • Runner's KneeRunner's Knee

    Patellofemoral pain syndrome also called runner’s knee refers to pain under and around your kneecap. Patellofemoral pain is associated with a number of medical conditions such as anterior knee pain syndrome, patellofemoral malalignment, and chondromalacia patella. Patellofemoral pain is a common complaint among runners, jumpers, and other athletes such as skiers, cyclists, and soccer players; thus the common name, runner’s knee.

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  • Unstable KneeUnstable Knee

    The knee joint is one of the largest joints in the body. This highly complex joint has several tissues supporting and stabilizing its movement:

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Knee Procedures

  • Knee ArthroscopyKnee Arthroscopy

    Knee arthroscopy is a common surgical procedure performed using an arthroscope, a viewing instrument, to diagnose or treat a knee problem. It is a relatively safe procedure and you will usually be discharged from the hospital on the same day of surgery.

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  • Total Knee Replacement (TKR)Total Knee Replacement (TKR)

    Total knee replacement, also called total knee arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure in which the worn out or damaged surfaces of the knee joint are removed and replaced with an artificial prosthesis.

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  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) ReconstructionAnterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Reconstruction

    ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) reconstruction is a commonly performed surgical procedure. With recent advances in arthroscopic surgery, it can now be performed with minimal incision and low complication rates.

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  • Uniknee ReplacementUniknee Replacement

    Unicompartmental knee replacement or unicondylar knee replacement is a minimally invasive surgery in which only the damaged compartment of the knee is replaced with an implant. It is also called a partial knee replacement.

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  • Revision Knee ReplacementRevision Knee Replacement

    Revision knee replacement surgery involves replacing a part or all your previous knee prosthesis with a new prosthesis. Although total knee replacement surgery is successful, sometimes the procedure can fail due to various reasons and may require a second revision surgery.

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  • After Knee ReplacementAfter Knee Replacement

    Knee replacement is a surgery performed to replace parts of a diseased knee joint with artificial prostheses. The goal of knee replacement is to eliminate pain and return you to your normal activities. You can help in recovery and improve the outcomes of the procedure by following certain precautions and changing the way you carry out your daily activities.

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  • Knee Fracture SurgeryKnee Fracture Surgery

    A knee fracture is a broken bone or a crack in or around the joint of the knee. This can involve the tibia (shin bone), the kneecap (patella), or femur (thighbone) where they connect with the knee.

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  • Knee ImplantsKnee Implants

    Knee implants are artificial devices that form the essential parts of the knee during a knee replacement surgery. The knee implants vary by size, shape, and material. Implants are made of biocompatible materials that are accepted by the body without producing any rejection response. Implants can be made of metal alloys, ceramic or plastic, and can be joined to the bone. The metals used include stainless steel, titanium, and cobalt chrome; whereas, the plastic used is polyethylene.

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  • MCL ReconstructionMCL Reconstruction

    MCL reconstruction is a minimally invasive surgical procedure in which a tendon graft is utilized to reconstruct the injured MCL.

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  • Meniscal SurgeryMeniscal Surgery

    Meniscal surgery is a surgical procedure employed for the treatment of torn or damaged meniscal tissues in the knee. It is mostly performed as a minimally invasive keyhole procedure.

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  • Meniscal TransplantationMeniscal Transplantation

    Meniscal transplantation is a surgical procedure to replace the damaged meniscus of the knee with healthy cartilage.

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  • Minimally Invasive Knee Joint ReplacementMinimally Invasive Knee Joint Replacement

    Total knee replacement is a very successful surgical treatment for knee arthritis. Over the years, minimally invasive knee replacement surgical techniques have been developed to lessen tissue trauma and improve patient outcomes. This minimally invasive approach involves much smaller incisions than the usual 10-12 inch incisions used in the traditional knee replacement and spares the quadriceps muscle and tendon, which control bending of the knee, from being cut to access the knee joint.

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  • Outpatient Total Knee ReplacementOutpatient Total Knee Replacement

    Total knee replacement is the surgical treatment for knee arthritis, where the damaged knee is removed and replaced with an artificial knee implant. Traditionally performed as an inpatient procedure, total knee replacement surgery is now being conducted on an outpatient basis, allowing you to go home on the same day of the surgery.

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  • Patellar Tendon RepairPatellar Tendon Repair

    Patellar tendon repair is the surgery performed to reattach the torn tendon to the kneecap and to restore normal function in the affected leg. 

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  • Patient Specific Knee ReplacementPatient Specific Knee Replacement

    Patient Specific Knee Replacement is a newer technology in total knee replacement surgery. It is an advanced procedure using an individualized patient-specific knee implant for replacement of all three components of the knee.  The difference with patient specific knee replacement from other knee replacement surgeries is the use of an MRI scan prior to the surgery that provides a clear view of the shape and structure of the different components of the joint. The implants are then designed specifically to match the natural shape of the articulating surfaces of the patient’s knee based upon the MRI. Unlike other knee replacement surgeries, patient specific knee replacement can also be used for severe knee arthritis.

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  • PCL ReconstructionPCL Reconstruction

    PCL reconstruction surgery is a procedure to correct torn posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) in the knee using a tissue graft taken from another part of the body, or from a donor.

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  • Physical Examination of the KneePhysical Examination of the Knee

    A complete physical examination of the knee is performed when you present to your doctor with a knee complaint. Both of your knees are examined and the results of the injured knee are compared to those of the healthy knee.

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  • ViscosupplementationViscosupplementation

    Viscosupplementation refers to the injection of a hyaluronan preparation into the joint. Hyaluronan is a natural substance present in the joint fluid that assists in lubrication. It allows the smooth movement of the cartilage-covered articulating surfaces of the joint.

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  • What is New in Knee ReplacementWhat is New in Knee Replacement

    If you are considering knee replacement surgery, there are new developments under study which can help enhance the quality of life.

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  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
  • Medical University of South Carolina
  • Athe American College of Surgeons
  • American Shoulder And Elbow Surgeons