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September 27, 2016 | Orthopedics
How much do you really know about your knees? One of the most important things to understand about knee anatomy is that a knee is one of the most complicated human joints. The knee has a lot of components, causing it to be particularly vulnerable when you expose it to injury.
Your knee has four primary parts:
The knee joint is the place where three bones meet: the femur (thighbone), the patella (kneecap) and the tibia (shinbone). The femur is the biggest bone in your body.
Cartilage functions like a cushion for the bones in your knee. It’s slippery and makes it possible for the three knee bones to glide smoothly against one another. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) indicates there are two main types: meniscal and articular. Meniscal cartilage stabilizes the knee. A tear in this type of cartilage is a common knee injury, particularly when you twist or pivot. Articular cartilage helps bones move easily across one another when you extend or bend your leg.
Four ligaments in your knee hold your bones together and stabilize the knee joint. Collateral ligaments on either side of a knee control how it moves sideways and protect it against unwanted movements. Cruciate ligaments inside your knee joint control how it moves back and forth.
The job of tendons is connecting muscles and bones. A quadriceps tendon connects your kneecap to an anterior thigh muscle. A patellar tendon links the kneecap to the shinbone.
The most common knee injuries I see among my patients include:
Now that you have a better idea of how you knee works, you might be surprised to learn this information about it:
Your knee might look like a plain old hinge, but this complex joint can make all kind of twisting and turning movements, Everyday Health points out. You could feel a variety of types of pain because your knees are so complicated. HealthPages.org lists around 35 interacting parts.
Prevention reveals that your knees might be tipping you off to other important health problems. Tingling or numbness in the back of your knee could point to an injury to your sciatic nerve. Pain or a warm feeling in the back of the knee while airborne could indicate a blood clot.
Thanks to our knees, humans are the only one of 250 species of primates capable of moving about on two legs. Human knees are able to extend fully and lock, allowing your legs to support your full body weight. When chimps try to walk upright, they eventually start rocking back and forth before resorting to movement using all four legs, according to the Reader’s Digest.
The Reader’s Digest also points out that your knee is home to a unique kind of bone. Kneecaps are sesamoid bone, a type that is peculiarly buried inside a muscle or a tendon. Sesamoid bone also occurs in your wrist, hand and foot.
Appearances can be deceiving. You might not guess that babies have kneecaps, but they do, WebMD says. They’re just much softer than adults’. Kneecaps are like the other bones found in babies and in children. These bones must have enough strength to support the child’s body but remain soft enough for growth to occur. They remain a mix of hard bone with softer cartilage until they reach their maximum size in adulthood.
Just ask any patient who’s had a knee or a hip replacement about life before surgery. You’ll hear a lot about pain. For many of people, arthroscopic surgery ends suffering.
A lot of my patients associate this type of surgery with aging. However, orthopedic surgeons perform it on adolescents as well. A surprising number of youngsters undergo knee or hip replacements because of injuries or disorders like juvenile chronic arthritis. I receive considerable satisfaction from performing orthopedic surgery on young athletes and helping them get back to a fully active life.
How significant are kids’ sports injuries? The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases indicates that more than 38 million American children take part in organized sports each year. Among those who are 19 or younger, 2.6 million end up in the emergency room to treat injuries related to sports or recreation. Many of their knee injuries require surgery. My young patients with knee problems linked to participation in sports in high school could experience either an acute injury or an overuse injury.
In my orthopedic practice, I enjoy helping people recover from knee problems and get back to the more active lives they once enjoyed. As someone who enjoys golfing and skiing recreationally, I understand how much they miss their favorite sports or activities.
While my goal is to always use minimally invasive treatment whenever possible, sometimes it’s necessary to perform a total knee or hip replacement. In 2013 alone, U.S. surgeons replaced 800,000 hips and knees, according to the Stanford School of Medicine, giving sufferers from pain a new lease on life. AAOS has good news for patients with total knee replacements: More than 90 percent of modern replacements still function well for 15 years following surgery.
Working with my patients to understand each one’s goals and creating a personalized treatment plan is my priority as an orthopedic specialist. Whether you’re an athlete, enjoy recreational sports, or have joint issues linked to other medical conditions, having an orthopedic physician in your corner helps relieve stress when it seems surgery might be a likely option. Take a moment to call today for a consultation and enjoy peace of mind.
I enjoy being able to understand people’s unique situations and trying to help them recover. I tend to be conservative with my surgical treatment, and much of my training is in minimally-invasive procedures, such as arthroscopy. I believe everyone deserves a trial of a more conservative treatment before moving to more invasive treatments such as surgery. I try to spend time with my patients to help understand their goals and work together to come up with a treatment plan based on those goals and their distinct medical history. Outside of work, I have a family with four children whom I love to spend time with. I enjoy skiing and golfing for recreation. I am also fluent in Spanish.
The Live Better Team
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.