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The knee joint is one of the most important within the body, helping us to walk, run, jump and even to simply sit down and get up. The entire weight and force of the body also paseses through the knee and it is for this reason, along with it's constant use (in both sport and daily life) that knee injuries are particularly common and something we are all likely to experience at some stage.
The four main parts that make up the knee are bones, ligaments, cartilage and tendons.
The main bones that form the knee joint are the femur (thigh bone), the tibia (shin bone) and the patella (knee cap). There is also the fibula, a small bone which runs along with the tibia.
The knee bones are connected to the leg muscles by tendons - this is how the joint is able to be moved.
Ligaments are designed to offer stability i.e. allowing your knee to handle the pressures of daily life and to prevent the joint from moving beyond it's normal range of motion (so it doesn't move too far in a specific direction when it shouldn't).
The femur is prevented from sliding backwards by the anterior cruciate ligament while the posterior cruciate ligament stops it from sliding forwards. Side to side movement is prevented by the lateral and medial collateral ligaments.
Shock absorbers between the tibia and femur are provided by two pieces of cartilage that are C-shaped. These are known as the medial and lateral menisci.
The knee also has many fluid filled sacs, known as bursae, that help with smooth movement.
The knee joint allows four main movements; extension, flexion, lateral rotation and medial rotation. Rotation only occurs when the knee is flexed. When the knee is not flexed rotation can only occur at the hip joint.
Injuries happen, it's a fact of life. What is important following an injury is:
If you carry on then you could make it worse (and no one wants that to happen), so sit yourself down and follow the RICE protocol for 24-48 hours in rest, ice, compression and elevation which is designed to protect you and reduce the swelling (and pain) resulting from the initial injury. If there are no signs of improvement then go and see your doctor.
You can't treat an injury unless you know what it is. There are loads of treatment options available from rest (some injuries just need a little time to heal naturally), bracing, physiotherapy, surgery or even a combination of all of these. Until you see your doctor then you won't know which pathway you need and until then you run the risk of making the injury worse.