Chronic pain is unfortunately part of everyday life for too many Americans. One 2011 Gallup study found that 26 percent of U.S. adults battle some sort of leg or knee issue; folks in their mid-50s and up suffer even more. Interestingly, taking an active role in your own health just might tip the scales. According to a New York Times report, being more competent about your health is associated with fewer hospitalizations and better control of chronic diseases.
It stands to reason then that the first step in taking control of your knee pain is to understand how this complex joint works. This way, you can work with your doctor and ultimately play a bigger part in your own knee health.
In that spirit, here’s a breakdown of the knees’ anatomy.
How the Knee Works
The knee, like your hip, is a weight-bearing joint that plays a key part in your ability to move around freely and easily. Before we get into injuries, let’s first look at how it’s put together.
The easiest way to get a visual here is to see the knee for what it is—an all-important hinge joint. It’s the connecting place for your tibia (shinbone) and femur (thigh bone). Helping to hold it all together is your patella, otherwise known as your kneecap. Beyond that, an intricate system of tendons, menisci and ligaments are also at work here.
We have two menisci: the lateral meniscus and the medial meniscus. This soft cartilage essentially serves as a cushion in between bones, which is why they’re commonly referred to as shock absorbers.
Ligaments and tendons play different roles. The first are important because ligaments keep bones stable. Meanwhile, tendons are vital in keeping bones connected to leg muscles. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to move our knee joints.
Understanding Knee Pain
Now that you’ve got a basic grasp on how the knee joint works, it’ll be a bit easier to understand knee pain and what your doctor is actually talking about. A torn or inflamed meniscus, for example, may understandably make straightening the knee a difficult task. Similarly, it makes sense why an injured or torn ligament causes pain while twisting or turning the joint. A dislocated knee cap or bone fracture each has symptoms of its own, but having a visual point of reference of the knees’ anatomy should help you wrap your head around these injuries more easily.
From there, it’s all about coming up with a comprehensive treatment plan that’s customized for you. The good news is that rushing into the operating room is rarely the best approach for dealing with knee pain. Pain Stop North Phoenix specializes in non-surgical treatment options to help restore knee function so you can live the life that’s waiting for you.