• Nuffield Hospital Leeds

    2 Leighton street, Leeds, LS1 3EB
    Main switchboard: 0113 388 2000
    Out-patient bookings: 0113 388 2067

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    BMI The Duchy Hospital Harrogate

    Queens Road, Harrogate, HG2 OHF
    Main switchboard: 01423 567136
    Out-patient bookings: 0808 101 0337

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    Spire Methley Park Hospital

    Methley Lane, Methley, Leeds, LS26 9HG
    Main switchboard: 01977 518518
    Out-patient bookings: 01977 518518

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  • Anatomy of the Knee

    Your knee is a complex capsule which acts as sort of hinge.
    It effectively contains two separate joints: the main hinge
    and a second joint between your knee cap and the front of
    the thigh bone. Because the knee is contained within a single
    capsule, any swelling in the knee affects both joints.

    Your knees are made up of the following components:

    Bones

    Bones

    • The femur [thigh bone] is the largest bone in your body.
    • The tibia [shin bone] is the larger bone of the lower leg.
    • The fibula is the smaller bone in the lower leg, sitting on the outside of the tibia.
    • The patella [knee cap] is located in front of the femur and tibia and slides within its own groove on the femur as the knee moves.

    Ligaments

    Ligaments

    Ligaments connect the bones of the upper and lower leg and are made of strong groups of fibres that help to provide stability to your knee. There are two main groups of knee ligaments. They allow the joint to move, but they also prevent the joint from moving excessively or abnormally.

    Collateral ligaments:

     

    • The medial and lateral collateral ligaments [MCL and LCL] lie on the inner and outer sides of the knee respectively. They help to prevent sideways motion.

    Cruciate ligaments:

     

    • The anterior cruciate ligament [ACL] and posterior cruciate ligament [PCL] lie in the centre of the knee crossing each other (hence “cruciate”). The ACL helps to limit rotation and forward motion of the tibia whilst the PCL located just behind the ACL limits the backward motion of the tibia.
    • In addition, there is a complex area called the posterolateral corner (PLC), which is made up of a group of linked ligaments, tendons and capsular fibres that assist in rotational (twisting) stability.

    Muscles and Tendons

    Muscles and Tendons

    • The quadriceps [‘quads’] are four muscles in front of the thigh that act to straighten the knee.
    • The hamstrings are the muscles in the back of the thigh that work together to bend the knee.

    Tendons are structures that attach muscles to bones. The four quadriceps form into one tendon called ‘the quadriceps tendon’ which surrounds the patella and then becomes the patellar tendon as it attaches to the tibia below the knee.

    Cartilage

    Cartilage

    Cartilage

    Articular cartilage

     

    • The ends of each bone in your knee are covered with smooth articular (joint surface) cartilage. This reduces friction between the moving surfaces of the knee joint and helps to spread the loads that are applied to the joint.

    Meniscal cartilage, meniscus

     

    • Between the femur and the tibia are two ‘C’ shaped wedges called menisci. These sit on either side of the joint, and act as shock absorbing cushions between the two main bones, in addition to other functions.

    Torn Cartilage

     

    • When a meniscus is damaged, it is often referred to as a ‘torn cartilage’. This can be a confusing term, but when people talk about a torn cartilage, they usually mean the meniscus and not the articular cartilage.

    > Find out more about Meniscal Cartilage Tears & Injuries