How does My Knee Work?

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Keeping your knees healthy is key to keeping a healthy and active lifestyle. As one of the largest joints in your body, it plays a vital role in your day-to-day life.


The knee is made up of the lower end of the thigh-bone (femur), the upper end of the shin-bone (tibia), and the knee-cap (patella).


Large ligaments also help connect the tibia and femur together. They are very strong and allow the bones in your knee to move against each other in a controlled manner. Basically, these ligaments help to stabilise your knee joint.

The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) and the Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) are found inside your knee, in the centre. They help control the movement when your knee twists, changes direction or slows down suddenly when playing sports for example.

The Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) and the Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) are found on the inner and outer side of your knee. These ligaments help control the side to side stresses across your knee joint.

Joint surface

The surface of the bones is covered with a smooth layer called the articular cartilage. This layer is incredibly smooth and allows your joint surfaces to slide over each with virtually no friction! Unfortunately, this articular cartilage can become roughened and worn as a result of injury or arthritis.


To help support the joint there is another type of cartilage, known as the meniscus. This is a crescent moon shaped cartilage that sits in-between the bones. You have two of these cartilages (menisci) in your knee. One on the inner side of your joint and one on the outer side. Your meniscus acts as a shock absorber and also makes your joint surfaces fit together better. Your meniscus also stops the different parts of the knee rubbing together.

A torn cartilage (or meniscus) can cause pain, swelling, and feelings of giving way (instability). Sometimes larger tears can cause your knee to get stuck so you are not able to straighten it, this is known as a locked knee. A locked knee usually needs an operation to fix the problem.


Your knee joint is lubricated with a fluid that is made by the cells that line the capsule of your joint, this is called synovial fluid. This fluid covers the surface of the knee, without it, you wouldn’t be able to freely bend your knees. A healthy knee will experience no friction.

Problems with Knee Function

It is when these three parts stop working together that problems can arise. This can be due to disease processes such as arthritis or injury. Symptoms can include pain, muscle weakness or disability, which is why it is important to keep your knees healthy.

Knee Specialist Advice

Are you having problems with your knee joint? We offer advice and treatments for all knee conditions. Call 0161 54646399 today to arrange an appointment. For more information about all things knee related check out

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