Your Knee Explained
Did you know the knee joint is the largest joint in the human body? And unfortunately, the knee joint is most commonly affected by arthritis. Understanding knee anatomy can help you know how knee arthritis develops and how it can cause you considerable pain.
The knee is a complex hinge joint that flexes and twists slightly from
side to side. It is responsible for weight bearing and movement. The knee joint is comprised of bones, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and muscles.
The knee is also a very vulnerable joint. The knee handles much stress from daily activities, such as squatting or standing, and from high-impact activities, such as working out.
The knee is formed by the following parts:
- The Tibia: This is your shin bone or the more prominent bone of your lower leg.
- The Femur. This is your thighbone or upper leg bone.
- The Patella. This is your kneecap.
The end of each bone is covered with cartilage that protects the knee by absorbing shock. The knee is two long leg bones held together by muscles, ligaments, and tendons. These three bones meet and move against each other at the knee joint: the bottom of the femur (thigh bone) meets with the top of the tibia (shin bone). The patella (kneecap) glides along a groove at the femur’s bottom and front.
Two groups of muscles allow the knee to work. The quadriceps muscles, on the front of the thighs, help to straighten your legs, and the hamstring muscles (back of the thigh) help to bend your leg. Ligaments on the knee help to provide stability and help to protect the joint.
Ok, that’s it for knee anatomy.
So Why Does Your Knee Hurt?
Your knee pain may be caused by an individual condition or by a combination of reasons. The most common causes of knee pain can be related to stress on the knee, injuries from work or other activities, and aging.
The main cause of knee pain in older adults is normally osteoarthritis which is the wearing away or degeneration of the cartilage in your knee joint. According to the Arthritis Foundation, 1 out of 2 adults will develop knee osteoarthritis in their lifetime.
While osteoarthritis damage to the knee joint cannot be cured, the symptoms of osteoarthritis can be managed with treatments we offer at the Joint Regeneration Group (JRG) of Virginia. (Click here to see the treatments offered at JRG of VA).
When osteoarthritis strikes your knee, the joint cartilage begins to break down, and the natural hyaluronic acid (HA) in the surrounding fluid becomes thinner and less functional. This reduction of HA triggers inflammation and damage that causes pain and stiffness when you move your knee. Arthritis can also cause knee pain. Though no treatment can completely stop osteoarthritis progression, it is possible to significantly slow down joint damage and keep knee joints stronger and flexible longer.
In addition to osteoarthritis, pain in your knee may be caused by injuries from sports, accidents, or work-related injuries. Knee pain can be triggered by heavy physical activity, lack of use, injuries such as sprains or strains, sitting in a constrained area, or sitting on knees for a prolonged period. Often, Athletes who over-exert their knees end up with conditions that cause knee pain, and being overweight can also contribute to painful knee problems.
Do You Have Some Of These Knee Pain Symptoms?
Remember, many people feel knee pain from osteoarthritis. With osteoarthritis, you may often feel pain, swelling, and stiffness when kneeling, squatting, lifting, or even walking.
If the cartilage that cushions your knee joint wears away, the bones in your knee joint can grind together, causing much pain. You may experience the following:
- Dull ache
- Severe pain
Are You Experiencing Restrictions In Your Activities Due To Your
Knee Pain? Are you avoiding things that you like to do?
- Taking walks in the park
- Playing with your grandkids
- Working in the garden
- Working out in the gym
- Bike riding
- Playing tennis
- The list goes on
Many active people have to begin to limit or even stop their recreational activities due to the resultant pain from these activities. So What Do You Do If You Are Experiencing Knee Pain?
One Path is Surgery. You may elect to have total knee replacement surgery. Your surgeon will remove your damaged cartilage and bone and then position a new metal knee to restore the alignment and function of your knee.
Most knee replacement surgery patients can return to activities without the need for crutches or a cane between three to six months after surgery, as long as there are no complications.
Another is the Non-Surgical Path. JRG of VA offers a non-surgical, non-pharmaceutical approach to treating knee pain from osteoarthritis and/or soft-tissue damage to the knee joint. The customized treatment plan includes the following:
- An initial consultation with our medical provider, who will examine your knee and discuss treatment options with you,
- If you decide to proceed, your examination will include the following:
- Taking x-rays of your knee
- Performing an arthrogram of your knee using fluoroscope guidance for accuracy
- Using fluoroscopy, we perform a series of injections of gel-like substances (hyaluronates) into your knee to supplement the viscous properties of your knee’s synovial fluid. This procedure is highly successful in alleviating pain associated with osteoarthritis and is covered by most major medical insurance providers, including Medicare.
- The fitting of a knee brace helps separate the knee joint allowing the hyaluronic acid (HA) to lubricate the knee.
With each injection, we use medical equipment called a fluoroscope. Fluoroscopy is virtually a live-view x-ray and allows our medical staff to look inside your joints in real-time with the latest imaging technology. This technique helps to ensure that the hyaluronic acid (HA) is accurately injected into the knee joint, which provides the best possible outcome from each treatment.
If you have tried pain reduction injections elsewhere without success, we may still be able to assist you, as your original knee injection may have never wound up in the right place.
For a No-Cost consult, click here or call (540) 900-5633
What Else Can I Do For My Knees After My Knee Injections?
If you want to improve your knee health after your injections, seeing a physical therapist may be a good choice. If you need a referral, call us at 540.900.5633, or click here for a referral request. (CLICK HERE) One of the most effective knee health treatments is one you can do on your own, but it’s not an easy one for most people – that’s maintaining an appropriate weight. If you gain 10 pounds, your knees support an additional 30-60 pounds of pressure every time you take a step.
The following tips may also help you after knee injection treatments to help prevent future injury to your knee:
- Warm up by stretching gently before and after playing sports.
- Walk before you run, either jogging, running, or sprinting.
- Keep your leg muscles strong by using stairs (unless it hurts), riding a stationary bicycle, or working out with weights.
- Avoid sudden changes in the intensity of your exercise regimen.
- Replace any worn-out shoes. Choose ones that fit you properly and provide good traction.
- Wear a knee brace for stability and support.
- When you’re feeling some pain, ice is a good treatment in the first 24 – 48 hours. After that, heat may be appropriate.
- Consider using knee guards in sports where your knees could get injured.
To protect your knee, you should maintain strong, flexible leg muscles. If you injure your knee, seek prompt medical attention to ensure an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment of the injury. Remember, Medicare and private insurers allow you to return to JRG of Virginia every six months for follow on treatments if your pain level starts going up again after knee injection treatments; just call us at (540) 900-5633