The knee is the largest joint in the body and comprises various structures such as the bones, collateral ligaments, cruciate ligaments, circular ligaments, patella (knee cap), meniscus, tendons and joint capsule. The complexity of the knee joint structures allows it to bend and extend as well and rotate slightly for locomotion and provide support.
Due to the heavy loads placed on the knee from the rest of the body while moving, it is prone to injury: fractures, dislocations, sprains, torn ligaments, etc. If the knee is damaged from acute injury to general wear and tear over time, it can require quite a bit of rehabilitation.
Common Conditions affecting the Knee
Ligaments are tough bands of connective tissue that connect the bone to bone, so logically they are found at joints.They provide stability and send messages to the brain about where your joint is in space (proprioception).
There are four ligaments in the knee:
- Lateral collateral ligament (LCL): on the outside of the knee and it connects your thigh bone to the fibular (the smaller bone of the lower leg). The main causes are direct trauma to the inside of the knee, putting pressure on the outside and causing it to sprain or rupture.
- Medial collateral ligament (MCL): on the inside of the knee connecting your thigh bone to the tibia (shin bone). It is common for this ligament to be injured in sports due to direct trauma.
- Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL): this connects your thigh bone to the shin bone. The ACL is the most commonly injured ligament of the knee. Injury usually occurs from changing direction quickly while playing sports, direct trauma to the knee, landing or falling awkwardly, stopping abruptly while running.
- Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL): this also connects the thigh bone to the shin bone. It is rare to injure this ligament, but can be done in car or bike accidents.
Iliotibial Band Syndrome
The iliotibial band (ITB) is a tract of strong connective tissue fibres that starts from the top of your pelvis, runs down the outside of your thigh and attaches at the outside of your knee.
People who suffer from ITB syndrome typically experience a sharp pain or tenderness on the outside of their knee just above the joint line. The pain is usually aggravated with running (especially with a heel strike), going down stairs or slopes.
The pain occurs a few inches below the kneecap, or patella, on the front of the knee.
It is one of the most frequent causes of knee pain in children, usually between the ages of 9 and 16 years but it can occur in younger children. It usually occurs in active or sporty children and/or those going through a growth spurt. Both boys and girls are equally vulnerable.
It can be made worse or brought on by activity and the child will have swelling in the area, and tenderness to touch.
Sports requiring lots of running, jumping, kneeling, and squatting are particularly associated.
Are half moon shaped pieces of cartilage tissue which act like shock absorbers in the joint. There are medial and lateral meniscus in the knee. The meniscus of the knee are commonly injured in sports, especially rugby, football and skiing. Meniscal tears may also occur without a sudden severe injury, they sometimes develop due to wear and tear over time.
Knee dislocations are high energy traumatic injuries and require medical attention because they can cause damage to the nerves and blood vessels.
Fat Pad Impingement
The fat pad of your knee, lies just under the kneecap. It can be injured by direct trauma or fall on the knee, which can lead to inflammation and pinching of the fat pad. Fat pad impingement is also known as Hoffa’s syndrome.
Patella Femoral Pain Syndrome
This term is used to describe pain around the front of the knee joint and the patella. It is common in runners and jumpers and is caused by overloading the front of the knee.
Knee bursitis is inflammation of a fluid-filled sac (bursa) around your knee joint. The bursa are made from synovial membranes which secrete synovial fluid to lubricate the joint. The bursa can become inflamed when kneeling for long periods of time. The joint can become painful or swollen.
Pain can be referred to the knee from the lower back from nerve referral. Pain can also be referred from the hip and ankle.
Sharp pain in the knee is one of the most seen conditions in our clinic by our Osteopaths and Physiotherapists. Our multidisciplinary team has more than 10 years of experience dealing with knee conditions. Talk to us for an accurate diagnosis of your knee pain.