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Tibio/Patellofemoral Joint (Knee)
Bones: The tibia which is the shin bone of the lower leg, the patella which is knee cap, and the femur (long bone of the thigh).
Cartilage: There is an articular coverage of cartilage at the end of the tibia and the femur. At the top of the tibia is two crescent shaped meniscus that help keep the rounded end of the femur in place (make a groove for the joint to bend at). Sealing the joint is a a joint capsule that is then covered by a bursa which is a fluid filled lubricating sac to help the joint bend smoothly.
Fat: Below the kneecap and under the Patellar ligaments is a Infrapatellar fat pad. This fat pad is thought to help with cushioning the joint, may play a role in the biomechanics of the knee, or act as a store for repair cells after injury.
Tendons: Some of the important tendons around the knee are the quadriceps tendon which covers about two inches above the knee. The hamstring tendon which several inches on the outside of the knee closer to the back of the tibia. And the iliotibial band which runs from the the ilium of the hip to the front outside of the tibia, this is a tendon band that several muscles of the thigh attach to such as the glutes, tensor fascia latte that help move the knee as well through this band.
Muscles: There are 14 muscles that act on the knee some of them only minorly. The two most influential groups being the quadriceps and the hamstrings. The quadriceps is a group of four muscles on the top of the thigh, the vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius, vastus medialis, and rectus femoris, all of which influential in extending the lower leg away from the body. The hamstrings is a group of three muscles on the back of the thigh consisting of the semitendinosus, the semimembranosus, and the bicep femoris all of which are majorly influential in flexing the lower leg and bringing it closer to the body.
Mechanics: The entire leg is a well developed appendage with muscle attachments that span multiple bones and yet still impact the movements of ones they pass. This means that there are many muscles to continue moving the joint even if injury occurs the the appendage. In contrast because of the muscles interconnectedness with tendons, high impact damage to the leg can cause pain to multiple muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
Range of motion: From having the entire leg straight the lower leg is able to flex backwards to about 155 degrees. This puts the calf muscle right up against the hamstrings. The joint is able to rotate inwards or outwards in reference to the front of the shin about 25 degrees in each direction.
Usage: Besides obvious body movement mechanics the knee can be used as a striking surface.
Stretching: When most people want to stretch their legs they find that the tendons and muscles around their knees hurt as well, this is because some muscles that affect the knee run for example from the pubis to the tibia passing over the femur, therefore trying to stretch the hip will also affect the knee. For this reason it is important to not bend the knee of the stretching leg and only stretch as far as you can keep the knee locked.
Injury: Very common in high impact sports is turning sharply where the femur and the tibia rotate in opposite directions and are likely to rip the meniscus of the knee.
Pain: Detailing important knee problems with the location of pain.
Note: These are only common problems to be aware of, if you experience knee pain please consult a physician.
For information on additional joints please refer back to the Joints page.
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