By Todd Engerson, M.D.
The knee joint is one of your body’s most complex joints…and the most likely joint to be injured. Considering how often the knee is called upon to perform, however, it is really quite durable.
In essence, the knee is made up of four bones. The femur, which is the large bone in your thigh, attaches by ligaments and the knee capsule to your tibia, otherwise known as the shinbone. The fibula runs parallel to the tibia, between the knee and the ankle. The patella, or knee cap, rides on the knee joint and offers protection as the knee bends, straightens and rotates.
Wile the bones around the knee support it and provide the rigid structure of the joint, muscles such as the quadriceps at the front of the knee and the hamstring a the back of the knee kelp to move the joint. Ligaments are equally vital because they stabilize the joint. The knee joint also includes meniscal cartilage, a C-shaped piece of tissue that aids in cushioning the joint and allowing the bones to slide freely on each other. A small fluid sac, known as the bursa, helps to lubricate the sliding movement.
EXAMINING YOUR KNEE
A sore knee can be a relatively minor, temporary problem or it can indicate a more serious injury. If the pain is acute or continuous, a physician should be consulted.
The physician will normally ask for a complete history of the affected area. This is followed by a physical examination to determine the location of the pain, the degree of swelling and any functional limitations. In many instances, x-rays are recommended to learn more about the condition of the bones and joints.
Occasionally, additional diagnostic tests may be ordered. If soft tissue damage is suspected, tests may include a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exam that provides computerized images of the tissue, which traditional x-rays cannot record. Blood or urine studies also may be requested by your physician.