The Knee

Understanding your knee

Your Knees

You can't run, sit, dance, swim or get down on bended knee without your knees. Knees have two functions. They bend, allowing you to execute moves like squatting and they straighten, allowing you to stand up tall. The knee is the largest joint in the body with a complex system of bones and ligaments.

Anatomy of a Knee

How Knees Work

How Your Knee Works

The knee is made up of three separate spaces. There is an inner (medial) space and outer (lateral) space. The kneecap joins the thighbone (femur) to form a third space known as patelofemural joint. The knee is surrounded by ligaments that help strengthen and stabilize the joint. The knee has a cartilage pad which helps absorb your body weight when you are kneeling. It's also surrounded by small fluid filled sacs to help the gliding motion as you bend and straighten your knee.

When Good Knees Go Bad

The Mayo clinic recommends you see your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:

You are unable to bear weight on your knees.

Your knee is markedly swollen.

You can't fully extend or flex your knee.

You see an obvious deformity in your knee or leg.

You have a fever along with pain, redness and swelling in the knee.

You fall because your knee gives out.

If you are experiencing pain, the location of the pain will give you doctor a clue to the problem.

Pain On the Front of the Knee

If you are experiencing pain in front of the knee which is aggravated by going down stairs, kneeling or sitting for long periods of time it may be caused by one of three common conditions.

RUNNERS KNEE (Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome)

Runners knee doesn't just affect runners. Any athlete who competes in sports that require repetitive knee motions is susceptible. The list includes soccer, cycling and skiing. Flat feet, weak leg muscles and improper stretching or warm-up can also cause runners knee.

HOUSEWIVE'S KNEE (Prepatellar Bursitis)

This condition is often marked by redness and swelling on the front of the knees. It primarily affects people who kneel for long periods of time on hard surfaces.

UNSTABLE KNEECAP (Patellar Subluxation)

This very painful condition is caused when the kneecap does not slide centrally within it's groove. It most commonly affects adolescents.

Pain on the Inside of the Knee

These are the three most common causes of pain on the inside (medial) side of the knee.


The meniscus is a thick piece of cartilage which serves to distribute the weight on the leg bones. It may be caused by a trauma injury or the meniscus becoming more brittle with age.


The ligaments keep your knee stable and control excessive movement. This condition is usually caused by a blow to the knee and may cause significant bruising and swelling.


Arthritis is a chronic condition which most often strikes older and overweight people. Genetics may play a role in the development of arthritis.

Pain on the Outside of the Knee

As with inside knee pain, pain on the outside (lateral) part of the knee may be caused by tearing of the meniscus, ligament damage and arthritis. There is one other condition that is commonly associated with outside knee pain.


The iliotibial band is a thick band of tissue that runs from the hips to just below the knee. It works with the leg muscle to keep the outer area of the knee stable. inflammation of the band may cause pain, swelling and popping of the knee.

Surgery May Be Required To Fix Knee Problems

Knee Surgery(83889)

Treatment Of Knee Pain

Your doctor may order an xray or MRI to get a better understanding of the nature and severity of your knee problems.

Common treatments include:



Knee brace

Anti-inflamatory drugs

A stabilizing bandage

Weight bearing equipment like crutches

Stretching exercises

You may require arthroscopic or open surgery to repair your injuries. In some cases knee replacement surgery is indicated.