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Understanding the Components of Your Knee and What Can Go Wrong

Understanding the Components of Your Knee and What Can Go Wrong

Your knee is the largest joint in your body, and it’s one of the most important joints when it comes to your mobility. Your knee is composed of bones, articular cartilage, menisci, ligaments, and tendons. Because your knee is used so frequently and there are so many components in it, many things can go wrong with the joints. 

Knee problems can quickly halt your ability to move, which is why we encourage you to seek medical attention at the first sign of a knee problem with an orthopedic specialist like David Dickerson, MD. Whether you’re dealing with an ACL injury, tendonitis, or a fracture, our team members here at Performance Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine are experts at diagnosing and treating knee pain.

In the meantime, continue reading to learn more about the components of your knee and what can go wrong.

Knee anatomy 101

Your knee is a complex joint that connects your femur (thigh bone) to your tibia (shin bone). Your knee contains bones, tendons, and menisci. 


Your knee is an interaction of three bones: femur, tibia, and patella. Your patella 一 your knee cap 一 protects your knee. 

Tendons and ligaments

Tendons are fibrous tissues that connect your bones to your muscles, and ligaments are fibrous tissues that connect bones with bones. You have several ligaments in your knee, all of which help to provide stability to your knee. Your ligaments include:

All of these ligaments act as anchors and prevent your bones from sliding out of place.


Cartilage is a connective tissue found in many places in your body, including your ears, nose, and knees. The cartilage in your knees 一 fibrocartilage一 is not as flexible as the cartilage in your ears. 

In your knee, you have two C-shaped pieces of cartilage. One is called the medial meniscus, and the second is called the lateral meniscus. Each of these acts as a shock absorber.

What can go wrong with your knee?

Any part of your knee 一 the bones, ligaments, or menisci 一 can become damaged or hurt, leading to symptoms such as swelling, pain, inability to walk, and the feeling that your knee may give way when you put weight on it. Your knee might also feel as if it’s “locked up.”

Knee pain is common, and it can develop as a result of a sports injury, an accident, a degenerative disease, or the natural process of aging. Researchers estimate that about 25% of adults have chronic knee pain, with arthritis as the leading cause in adults over the age of 50. 

Because the knee is such a large and complex joint, a lot can go wrong with it. Here are just a few examples of knee conditions:

No matter what causes knee pain, finding relief is likely your No. 1 priority. In the event of sudden, acute pain, you might find temporary relief by implementing the RICE protocol 一 rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Your team at Performance Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine diagnoses the source of your pain and develops a customized treatment plan based on the type of injury you have. 

On the other hand, if osteoarthritis pain is the culprit, you might consider heat therapy to combat stiffness and cold therapy to combat swelling. If conservative treatments aren’t enough, we may suggest Mako® Total Knee Robotic-Arm Assisted Surgery.

Questions about your knee? Don’t let knee pain keep you from living life on your terms.  Call one of Performance Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine’s offices 一 in Toms River and Shrewsbury, New Jersey 一 or book a consultation online.

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