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For the same reasons as the hip joint (a major weight bearing and mobile joint) the knee joint is also often affected by osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis (or OA) in the knee joint usually generates pain that increases with general activity and is often accompanied by swelling, stiffness and restriction. Sometimes there is also frequent creaking and cracking (crepitaion). OA is caused by a slow progressive loss of cartilage in a joint and bony thickening oF the margins of the knee joint surfaces.
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The bony structures of your knee comprise the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone) that act like a simple hinge joint and a third small triangular shaped bone called the patella (or knee cap). The femur and tibia are held in place by four main ligaments. Two of these are the collateral ligaments (medial and lateral) and the third is the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) with the anterior cruciate ligament (or ACL) being the fourth. Damage to any of these ligaments (especially the cruciates) can affect knee stability.
The most commonly injured tendons in the knee are the tendons associated with the hamstrings and quadriceps muscles. The quadriceps muscles coalesce to become a tendon that is known as the patellar tendon that inserts onto your kneecap and continues onto your shinbone. Patella tendinopathy and Osgood-Schlatter disease (this mainly affects teenagers) are common conditions affecting this tendon. Injury to the main hamstring muscle tendon (biceps femoris) is an equally common presentation. Inflammed bursae can also be a source of discomfort. These are structures that occur throughout the body and they are basically little sacks of fluid that typically occur between bony surfaces and overlying soft tissue (such as a tendon). There are a total of up to 11 bursae in the knee.
Your kneecap (or patella) moves with your thighbone (or femur) while you walk or run. This creates constant friction and stress that can sometimes serve to irritate the kneecap and its surrounding anatomy. Some of this friction also occurs because the patella serves as a pulley for one of the largest and most powerful of muscle groups in the body, this is the thigh muscle (or quadriceps femoris). This condition can cause pain at the front of the knee.
The meniscus is a C-shaped rubbery pad of cartilage that acts as a shock absorber. It helps to cushion and stabilize your knee during movement. Effectively it helps distribute the body’s weight across the knee joint and essentially enables the leg bones to fit together properly (or gives the joint 'congruity'). There are two menisci in each knee, namely the medial meniscus on the inside of your knee and the lateral meniscus on the outside. Injury to these structures typically evolves from twisting the knee when the foot is planted. This results in pain, stiffness and swelling and is sometimes accompanied by locking or ‘clicking’
Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS) is one of the most common overuse injuries among runners and sports that involve running as a main component (most sports!!) .The IT band attaches to the knee and helps stabilize and move the joint. When the IT band isn't working properly, movement of the knee (and therefore running) becomes painful. IT band pain can be severe enough to completely sideline a you for weeks, or even longer. It happens when the iliotibial band, the ligament that runs down the outside of the thigh from the hip to the shin, is tight or inflamed.