Knee pain, especially if it’s persistent or comes with weakness, is a sign of a problem. The worse it becomes, the more likely a knee injury or condition is to disrupt your ability to walk or stand. While you might not initially understand what happened inside your knee to cause pain, swelling, weakness, or instability, a review of the knee’s anatomy can offer insight.
Serving the Northwest Indiana area, including Munster, Crown Point, St. John, and Dyer, Indiana, Orthopaedic Surgical Consultants, located in Merrillville, Indiana, provides advanced treatment for knee injuries and can teach you about the anatomy of your knee. When you know what went wrong, you can prevent the same injury from happening again.
Our experts John Pomponi, DO, FAAOS, FAAHKS, and Jonathan Javors, DO, DLaws, MBA, FAOAO, FACOS, FAAHKS, can answer your questions about the knee joint and how it works. They can tell you more about your injury and guide you to the most effective treatments or surgeries to restore your function.
The ligaments within your knee
The ligaments inside your knee are a network of bands of tissue that allow you to move your knee and hold the joint stable so it doesn’t move beyond its limits. There are two pairs of ligaments inside your knee:
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) cross over each other in an X-shape if you’re looking at them from the front. The ACL crosses in front of the PCL, and they both connect your femur (thigh bone) to your tibia (shin bone).
The cruciate ligaments share the responsibility of controlling your knees’ forward and backward movements. ACL injuries are far more common than PCL injuries and usually happen when you swiftly change direction during sports. In addition to the quick onset of intense pain and the loss of knee stability, a cruciate ligament tear often causes a loud popping noise or sensation.
PCL tears more commonly happen upon impact when your knee is bent, like during a car accident.
The collateral ligaments in your knee are the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and the lateral collateral ligament (LCL). Like the cruciate ligaments, these bands of tissue are also attached to your femur. They run parallel to each other instead of crossing. The MCL is located on the inner side of your knee and connects with your tibia while the LCL is on the outer side of your knee and connects with your fibula (calf bone).
MCL injuries often happen because of force applied to the outside of the knee, which moves the knee inward and causes the ligament to overstretch or tear. LCL injuries happen the other way: if force is applied to the inside of your knee, it pushes the knee outward and can stretch or tear the LCL.
MCL and LCL strains and tears are common in contact sports such as football and hockey.
Another component of your knee is the patella, which you might know as the kneecap. It’s a small bone covering the front of your knee joint, which you can feel when you rub your knee. Your kneecap can pop out of place when your leg is planted, and you suddenly change direction. That is called a patellar dislocation.
A patellar fracture, or a broken kneecap, is another issue. Severe knee pain can result from cracking or breaking your kneecap due to a fall or a direct and forceful blow to the knee.
The meniscus is one of the most commonly injured components of the knee. It’s not a bone or a ligament but rather a C-shaped piece of cartilage. You have one on each side of your knees to provide cushioning between the bones.
Forcefully twisting your knee, especially if your full weight is on that leg at the time, can tear the cartilage. That is called a meniscus tear, and it’s one of the most common knee injuries.
Our team has the necessary tools and knowledge to explore all possible causes of your knee pain and provide exceptional care to heal the joint. Schedule an appointment by phone or online at Orthopaedic Surgical Consultants to find out what went wrong with your knee right away.