Understanding the Knee: Part One

A common condition that physiotherapists come across in their day-to-day practice is the knee injury. Such a complex joint! That’s why today’s blog is going to be all about understanding the knee and things that can go wrong. We’ll start this series of blogs with a general overview of the knee joint.

The Knee Joint

The knee joint is a very important link in our lower extremities. It connects two long bones in our legs, making it susceptible to a lot of injuries. Anatomically, the knee joint is structured to be the largest joint in our body, and one of the strongest.

The joint is between our long thigh bone, or the ‘Femur’, and the long bone of the lower leg, the ‘Tibia’. The knee cap, or the ‘Patella’, sits comfortably on top of the joint between these bones. All three components, when working in perfect harmony, allow us to bend and straighten our legs without any pain or discomfort.

Other Structures in the Knee

Aside from the structural arrangement, the knee joint is further reinforced by the presence of soft tissues that further strengthen the joint.

There are 4 main ligaments:

  • The Anterior and Posterior Cruciate ligaments – formed like a cross within the joint

  • The Medial Collateral ligament – on the inner side

  • The Lateral Collateral ligament – on the outer side

There are 2 other structures within the joint that allow smooth gliding of the joint:

  • The Medial Meniscus (on the inner side)

  • The Lateral Meniscus (on the outer side)

What Can Go Wrong

The knee joint is loaded differently with every activity we do. Often, these activities affect the structures in and around the joint, causing dysfunction.

For example, walking puts 0.3 times the body weight on the knee caps, whereas squatting loads the knee cap with 7 times the body weight!

Some common issues include:

  • Degenerative/arthritic changes within the joint: usually causing pain in the front inner side of the knee

  • Ligament/meniscal injuries: pain is usually near the location of the specific structure involved

  • Inflammation of other soft tissues like Bursa, fat pad, the joint capsule, etc.

  • Dysfunction/deviations in your feet or hip: since the joints in the leg are linked, a dysfunction in your foot could very well be a contributor to your knee pain

What Should I Do?

Depending on the type of injury, a physiotherapist prepares a treatment protocol that is customized to your injury/dysfunction and helps maximize healing and rehabilitation. Due to constant weight bearing on the knee, it is very important to get timely treatment and prevent a chronic pain syndrome.

A well-trained physiotherapis


 will do a thorough assessment with special clinical tests to narrow down the source of your symptoms and prepare a targeted treatment plan for you.

So, if you have been experiencing knee pain, it’s time to 

pay your friendly neighborhood Physio a visit


Stay tuned for the next blog in the series: a detailed discussion on some common knee conditions.