and the structures that make up the knee can help with injury
prevention, as well as your injury treatment.
knee is one of the most
commonly injured joints in the body during sports activities. From ACL
, to meniscus tears
, knee injuries can
often effect your ability
to participate in sports.
of the Knee
anatomy starts with the bones making up your knee joint. Your knee is a
hinge type joint that allows for the
movements of flexion (bending) and extension (straightening) of the
Your knee joint is made up of two bones, the femur
(thigh bone) and the tibia (shin bone). These two
bones touch each other and make up the tibio-femoral
Another important joint in your knee is the patello-femoral
joint. This is the articulation between the patella
(knee-cap) and the femur. The patella is a small bone that is actually
inside the quadriceps tendon, and helps provide extra
leverage for the quadriceps muscles when straightening the knee. Both
the tibio-femoral and patello-femoral joints are commonly injured in
Ligaments of the Knee
are connective tissue that connects bones to other bones, and are an
important part of knee anatomy.
There are four
major ligaments in your knee. The medial collateral ligament (MCL),
the lateral collateral ligament (LCL), the anterior
cruciate ligament (ACL), and the posterior cruciate
and LCL are on the inside and outside of your knee, and help
to keep your knee from moving from
side to side. The ACL and PCL are inside of your knee joint, running
between the femur and the tibia. They help to keep your tibia from
out from under your femur. The ACL and PCL cross over each other inside
the joint, which is how they get there names. (cruciate = to cross).
The joint capsule is
another connective tissue structure that surrounds your knee joint. Out
of the major ligaments, the
are the most commonly injured
with sports activities.Take the Anatomy Video Tour
Cartilage of the Knee
Another important part of knee anatomy is the cartilage. There are two
types of cartilage within your knee joint, fibrocartilage
and articular cartilage
The fibrocartilage in your knee is called
the meniscus, and there are two pieces, the medial meniscus
and the lateral meniscus.
meniscus is a thick, dense connective tissue that sits between your
tibia and femur. It helps to provide shock absorption and cushion
for your tibia and femur, as well as making your knee joint more
Articular cartilage is a hard and very slick surface that lines the
ends of the bones where they articulate, or touch each other. This
helps to reduce friction between your bones during movement.
are common sports injuries, and are often caused by twisting your knee.
of the Knee
last major area of knee
anatomy include the muscles.
There are many muscles that surround your knee joint. The thigh
or quadriceps, are a group of four muscles that
start at your hip, and extend down the front of your upper leg,
into the patellar tendon on the tibia, just below your kneecap.
The quads straighten your knee out when you contract them.
muscles on the back of your
thigh, are a group of three muscles that start at your hip and extend
down the back of your upper leg. They insert on both the medial and
lateral sides of your leg, just below the knee joint. The hamstrings
bend your knee when you contract them.
Other muscles run along the inside and outside of your upper leg, and
help to produce movement of the leg. These include: tensor
fascia lattae, gracilis, sartorius, and the adductor group.
Tendons of the Knee
connective tissue that attach muscles to
bones. All muscles have tendons at their ends.
The most important tendons in your knee are the patellar tendon
which extends from your patella (knee-cap) to your tibia, and the ilio-tibial
band, which is the tendon for the tensor fascia lattae
muscle, and runs along the outside of your upper leg, inserting on the
fibula and tibia. These two tendons are commonly injured in sports
All of the muscles, tendons,
bones, ligaments, and
cartilage work together to keep your knee functioning correctly.
Understanding knee anatomy is the best start for preventing and
treating knee injuries. Take
the Knee Anatomy Video Tour