If your knee is damaged by injury or arthritis, it may be hard for you to perform simple, daily activities like walking or climbing stairs. You may even begin to feel pain while you are sitting or lying down. It’s important to understand what’s causing your knee pain so you can find the most effective treatment option. The expert orthopedic team at Parkview Ortho Hospital can help.
Anatomy of the knee
The knee is the largest joint in the body. It’s a complex joint made of bones and healthy cartilage. The end of your femur (thighbone) can be compared to a rocking chair. It has two distinct surfaces call compartments, which rest on the tibia (shinbone). A third compartment is found behind the patella (kneecap). All three compartments are covered with cartilage to help cushion and lubricate the bones during movement.
The knee also includes two groups of muscles. The quadriceps, located on the fronts of the thighs, help straighten your legs. The hamstring muscles, located on the backs of your thighs, help bend your legs at your knees.
A hip joint consists of several components:
Cartilage is tissue that covers the surface of bones at a joint. It helps reduce the friction of movement within a joint.
Synovial membrane is tissue that lines the joint and seals it into a joint capsule. It helps keep your joints lubricated.
Ligaments are a type of tough, connective tissue that surrounds joints to give them support and limit movements.
Tendons are another type of tough tissue that connects muscles to bones. They also help control joint movements.
The meniscus is a curved part of cartilage in your knees that acts as a shock absorber. It also increases contact area and deepens the knee joint.
The femur is the thighbone, or upper leg bone.
The tibia is the shinbone, or the larger bone of the lower leg.
The patella is the kneecap.
Common causes of knee pain
The most common cause of hip pain and disability is arthritis. Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and traumatic arthritis are the most common forms of the disease.
A number of treatment options are available to help relieve knee problems:
Nerve block injections
Surgical repair options
The decision to pursue a surgical repair option – as well as determining what option is best for you – should be a collaborative one among you, your family, your primary care physician and your orthopedic surgeon.
Common surgical repair options include:
Arthroscopic hip surgery
If you have suffered an ACL tear, PCL tear, MCL tear, torn meniscus or another knee injury, your orthopedic surgeon may recommend a minimally invasive arthroscopic procedure. During this procedure, your surgeon will make a few tiny incisions in the skin around your knee. He will then slip a pencil-thin surgical instrument through the incisions to perform your surgery.
An arthroscope (miniature video camera) transmits high-quality images of your joint onto a television screen that your surgical team monitors throughout your surgery. This helps ensure you get timely, appropriate care.
Because your surgical incisions are very small, you’ll likely notice less pain and scarring after your arthroscopic knee surgery. You’ll also likely return home the day of surgery, and recovery takes anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on your overall health.
Total knee replacement surgery
Total knee replacement can be an extremely successful surgical procedure. Total knee replacement, also called arthroplasty, involves removing the damaged bone and cartilage and resurfacing it with orthopedic implants. The goal of total knee replacement surgery is to help relieve pain that cannot be controlled by other treatments.
During total knee replacement surgery, your orthopedic surgeon will make an in the skin over your knee joint. He will then remove the damaged surfaces of your knee, and resurface them with the synthetic implants. Then, he will insert a medical-grade plastic spacer between the metal component to create a smooth gliding surface. Finally, your surgeon will close your incision and apply a sterile bandage or dressing.